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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Cuba could be Google’s new subsidiary

Por qubano22005

Eric Schmidt is in Havana. The former Google executive along with Jeff Flake has landed on Cuba and with it, the many speculations about the future of communication networks in the island. It is known that Díaz-Canel Bermudez, the Cuban president, is an enthusiast of technologies that he sees in the use of these and Internet the development of the country. Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said Google is closer to finalizing an agreement with the Cuban government to provide more Internet access in that nation. On the other hand, the Cuban government has been willing to collaborate with the US Company.

Close sources have commented that the Cuban president is considering the possibility of connecting the island with a new submarine cable in order to increase connectivity and service capacity. It is expected that Google, experienced on this kind of connection, will help with the tasks. In recent days, the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA) announced that they were prepared to start offering Internet service on cell phones.

Brett Perlmutter and Susanna Kohly, advisers to Schmidt and in charge of negotiations with Cuba, also participated in the meeting where the Cuban leader showed eased and open to dialogue in what has been his first meeting with US diplomats and businessmen since he took office.

Díaz-Canel held gently conversations with Eric Schmidt and showed interest in expanding Internet all over the country in a planned and organized way. Cuba needs, for the development of social projects in sectors such as education and health, better access to the network of networks. The island witnesses discrete advances in the development of software and network-based systems. Díaz-Canel showed visitors the work that the nation has been doing in areas such as education and internal networks.

From his time as First Vice President Díaz-Canel insisted on working for an Internet future in the island. Hence, he promoted the automation of information and services in the several development sectors as well as their use through the network of networks. The Cuban head of state has also emphasized users must prepare for the use of social networks as a means of work and ideological defense "against the enemies of the Revolution".

Likewise, Cuban programmers are making progress and several have been in the finals of the World Cup of Google Code Jam programmers and the ACM-ICPC International Collegiate Programming Contest, one of the oldest, largest and most prestigious academic events in the world, a fact that reveals the rise of the island in the computers’ sector.

Currently one of the claims of young people of the largest of the Antilles is the low access to Internet and the high prices that implies using it. Even the US government itself has used this as a pretext and claim for democracy in Cuba. Although the Cuban government does not deny that there is indeed little access to the internet, they are demanding the United States the scarce accessibility is a direct consequence of the US blockade against Cuba.

Several experts say the new Cuban leader would win the trust of the youth if he succeeds in responding to the demand for greater access to Internet. However, Díaz-Canel has several obstacles to surmount. On one hand and within its own courtyard there is the reluctance of its coreligionists: Raúl Castro, Ramiro Valdés and José Ramón Machado Ventura, all octogenarians with a strong resistance to change and known as the extreme safeguards of Fidel Castro's ideology. The "historic" former fighters are fiercely opposed to a bigger introduction of North American technologies in Cuba. In 2015, Google offered the Cuban government to increase connectivity through wireless technology but the government of Raul Castro declined the offer.

On the other hand, there is the government of the United States. Despite the rhetoric used by Washington, Cuba has not been able to develop the networks within the country due to the restrictions and sanctions that the Treasury Department imposes on suppliers that violate the economic embargo. If with Obama administration and the softening of US-Cuba relations that made possible for Google to come closer to the island, now with Donald Trump and Marcos Rubio as a whisperer, the story is very different. Obama at the time announced that Google would make a larger investment to improve Internet access.

Under Trump’s administration, Google has reduced its projects in Cuba. Some services of the company like Project Shield are not available due to the embargo. Yet, Google still keeps a cybercafé and negotiated an agreement to store content on company servers located in the island, which accelerated the speed of popular sites such as YouTube and Gmail. A business agreement with ETECSA allowed Google to install its own servers in Cuba aiming at providing Cuban users with an improvement in content access times and optimizing the capabilities of its international network.

However, there still ongoing negotiations to install the necessary infrastructure to provide Wi-Fi and Internet connection in those places where the service is not enabled, one of the goals of the visit of Jeff Flake and the Mountain View’s executives.

Google has been one of the leading companies to come to the island to improve Internet infrastructure with the clear purpose of ensuring an emerging market. Other companies such as European Sprint and Orange have also started negotiations in Cuba to taste a piece of the pie.

Previously the American company invested in Google+Kcho, an artistic project that mixes technology with art and that has been greatly accepted in the community where the project is carried out.