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December 13, 2016

Google signs internet deal with Cuba

Deal is likely to be a topic of discussion when President-elect Donald Trump meets with US tech CEOs.

By James Nunns

Google and the Cuban government have signed a deal that will grant internet users faster access to the company’s branded content.

The deal was signed by Eric Schmidt, chairman of Alphabet the parent company of Google, and Mayra Arevich Marin, president of state telecommunications company ETECSA.

What this means is that Cubans will get access to the Google Global Cache network, this stores content from sites such as Gmail, YouTube and others and gives faster access to them thanks to servers being located closer to end users.

Google said in a statement: “This deal allows ETECSA to use our technology to reduce latency by caching some of our most popular high bandwidth content like YouTube videos at a local level.”

Eric Schmidt, chairman of Alphabet was present to sign the deal. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE

Eric Schmidt, chairman of Alphabet was present to sign the deal. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE

The deal is a sign of the changing relationship between Cuba and the US, which was instigated by the outgoing President Barrack Obama who restored relations with Cuba earlier this year after 54 years of hostility between the countries.

The Communist-run island has previously heavily restricted interest from US companies to participate in wiring the country, due to national security concerns.

It is not yet clear as to how big of an impact this deal with have on the wider Cuban population as according to a U.N. agency report last year only 5.6% of Cuban homes have either intranet or internet access.

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Work is being done by the Obama administration to finalise commercial accords before he leaves office next month, while President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to terminate the deal.

Trump is due to meet with the CEO’s of some of America’s largest tech companies on Wednesday, among the name is Alphabet CEO Larry Page, it should be expected that the deal with Cuba will likely be discussed.

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