Saturday,  July 20, 2019  10:35 pm

Will Google deal solve Cuba's internet problem?


Will Google deal solve Cuba's internet problem?
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch: christine@paxglobalmedia.com.

Frequent travellers to Cuba know that staying connected isn't always easy.

Not only is free Wi-Fi non-existent, but if you do want some internet roaming time, you have to pay and use Nauta internet access cards, which grant one hour of access before you have to pay up, again.

READ MORE: Cuba launches national WiFi; preferential roaming rates for travellers

Late last June during FIT Cuba, Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz announced  a national wi-fi coverage plan that would roll out into 287 hotels by the end of 2018, and full coverage across the island by the end of 2019.

Will internet access improve?

According to the Miami Herald, last Thursday (Mar. 28), tech giant Google signed a deal with Cuban telecommunications company ETECSA, in the hopes of improving internet traffic exchange between both networks across Cuba.

On Twitter, ETECSA expressed that the negotiations with Google would hopefully " improve the quality of access to content, as part of the strategy #Cuba for development and computerization."


This process, known as "peering", would mean that Cuban users would enjoy faster internet and better connectivity, as the result of a direct interconnection between Google's network and another network (ETECSA) to support the exchange of traffic.

Cuba is currently connected to the internet via an undersea fibre-optic cable from Venezuela. The Cuban people first used the public service in 2013.

A series of factors, including lack of funding, the U.S. embargo, and tight government restrictions on the sharing of information have kept Cuba's internet connectivity from growing.

The first public wi-fi hotspots opened in 2015, and offered internet access in 35 public locations. As of today there are more than 500 public hotspots, but home-based internet services and mobile internet are largely unavailable.


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