What It Means: A Google Deal with Cuba

google deal with cuba google global cache larry press anewdomain
Written by Larry Press

On Monday Eric Schmidt will reportedly ink a Google deal with Cuba. Here’s our Larry Press on what a Google Global Cache deal means for American tech companies, Cuban internet users and incoming US President Donald Trump …

 aNewDomain — On Monday, Google chief Eric Schmidt will reportedly sign a deal in Havana that brings Google Global Cache to Cuba.

Such a deal means Cubans could get far faster access to such Google’s content and services as search, Gmail, YouTube and so on.

Deal terms between Google and Cuba around Google Global Cache have already been reached, according to sources in this New York Times report on Friday.

It isn’t yet clear whether Google is covering the cost of the project or whether ETESCA, Cuba’s state-run telecom provider, is embarking on the Google deal alone or together with Cuban universities. If properly implemented, though, this will be a big win for Cubans, who have some of the slowest Internet access in the world.

It also could be a huge win for Google. So far, Chinese companies have dominated the Cuban telecom infrastructure market.

Huawei, for instance, is the main partner in the Cuba fiber trial. Huawei smartphones are selling on the island, too.

Now, if Google collaborates with ETECSA in content delivery and data center infrastructure, as this deal presumes, the search giant will get a seat at the table. That will presumably give Google a voice in how other Cuban infrastructure is planned and procurred, like the fiber backbone in Old Havana I told you about last week.

Google will gain a running start in Cuba and early recognition among Cuban users who use services like YouTube, Google Plus, Google Drive and Gmail and click on adds.

It may be good news, too, for the current presidential administration. US President Barack Obama announced the so-called detente with Cuba in December 2014. The fact that more and more American businesses have been approved to do business on or with the island do much to support the normalization of relations, which might explain why Cuban officials seem to be speeding up such approvals before president-elect Donald Trump takes office next month.

Last week, two cruise companies, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean, scored permission to serve the island in 2017. And a deal with General Electric to get power equipment and medical gear, according to this Dec. 1 report in The Wall Street Journal, may also be nearing approval.

As the Times pointed out yesterday, if a Google deal does in fact improve online access speeds, it “ties information access to U.S.-Cuban detente in a way that could prove politically difficult to undo for anti-Castro officials in the incoming Trump administration.”

For American tech companies longing for a way to do business, that’s great news, too.

I’ve long speculated about the possibility of Google investing in a Cuban data center and this development, if it happens, would be the first such investment.

We will see on Monday whether and how Google Global Cache services will be implemented on the island, which and what the performance gains will be.

For aNewDomain, I’m Larry Press.
Editor: An earlier version of this column ran on Larry Press’ LaredCubana blog. Check it out here.
Image credit: LonelyPlanet.com, All Rights Reserved.