Technology giant Google is reportedly close to wrapping up a deal with the government of Cuba to connect the island to undersea fiber-optic cables and expand internet access to more residents.
Cuba’s new President Miguel Díaz-Canel has shown interest in working with Google, according to Spanish paper El Nuevo Herald.
“Yes, I think they are closer,” reported the paper, quoting Republican Senator Jeff Flake. Flake returned to Washington this week from a trip to Havana with Google’s former Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.
The US visitors also met with officials from the Cuban Ministries of Communications and Foreign Relations.
As of now, broadband connections in Cuba are extremely slow as the island is heavily dependent on a cable that runs under the Caribbean to Venezuela, with most residents accessing the web at internet cafes and government’s ETECSA telecommunications monopoly charging high fees for the access.
Cuba initially thought of widening wireless network coverage, but soon shelved the idea due to worries of espionage. The communist government is of course known for restricting free press and trying to tightly control the internet.
However, the new President looks to be in favor of giving easier internet access to his citizens. Therefore, Google has hastened its lobby to open up the Cuban market.
The search engine giant is in fact the first to provide Cubans with high-speed internet. Its online technology center in Havana offers a free internet service at speeds nearly 70 times faster than public Wi-Fi hotspots.