After being long cut off from the rest of the world, the island country of Cuba now hosts its first Google servers. On Wednesday, 26 April, these servers went live, making Google the first foreign company to host content. These particular servers are GGC nodes, part of Google’s network of similar caching servers, which store popular content locally. Prior to the servers being installed, Cubans accessed the Internet through a submarine cable, connected in Venezuela. Doug Madory, an internet analyst at Dyn Research, an internet monitoring company that announced the news, stated that “I think this will be very noticeable for Cubans.” “The internet in Cuba will still be a painfully slow process. This is just another somewhat rare step forward. For Google services, which will be hosted in country, it will be a milestone.”
Google publicized their plans to set up shop in Cuba last year. Google has been working with Cuba since 2014, after the United States relaxed its trade embargo with Cuba. Google offered free access to both Google Play and Google Analytics. Afterwards, Google set up a center offering much faster internet in Havana.
While Google’s been taking substantial steps forward, the situation’s not ideal yet. Currently, those who already had Internet access can only use the new and improved Internet connection. Madory stated that, “I can see the server is there and I can interact with it, but Cubans are not yet getting automatically connected to it.” Most average Cubans lack the ability to connect to the internet, because they don’t have permission at home. Many people are reliant on work, education facilities, and/or one of the country’s 240 public access Wi-Fi hotspots. Furthermore, the cost of an hour of internet is expensive, considering the country’s average monthly income of $25.
However, one can expect Google to continue making progress in the coming months and years, making information available throughout the world.