Cuba is one of the least digitally connected nations in the world. But Barack Obama has announced that Google will start providing the island nation with internet service.
Speaking to ABC News during his historic trip to Cuba, Obama explained that “one of the things that we’ll be announcing here is that Google has a deal to start setting up more Wi-Fi and broadband access on the island.”
Cuba’s state telecommunications company, ETECSA, recently announced that it was launching its first domestic broadband scheme in Cuba. That service, run by Huawei, is initially providing broadband to Old Havana, the city’s old colonial centre, and is expected to spread.
The arrival of Google on the scene should do a lot to drive competition and encourage faster digital growth. The country needs it: until this year, the only domestic internet connections were available to diplomats and employees of foreign companies at exorbitant fees, and a single of hour of public Wi-Fi access cost $2. For some context, an average Cuban salary stands at around $20 per month.
It’s not yet clear what the Google-powered Wi-Fi and broadband provision will look like, or how much it will cost. But we do know that, irrespective, it’s good news for Cuba. [Reuters]