There was news late last year that Google was to launch a local server in Cuba under the Google Global Cache (GGC) brand, and now the new Google server officially went live in the country. This is a notable turn of events considering the former diplomatic isolation of Cuba, a Western hemisphere country where Internet connectivity is still extremely low, and it also signifies the more open approach that is developing between Cuba and the United States. Internet data has previously been transferred to Cuba through international pipelines via Venezuela. However, Google's arrival in Cuba means that residents of the country will now be able to access Internet services in a significantly quicker manner.
While the launch of Google's new server marks an important milestone for both the Alphabet-owned company and Cuba, industry experts say that the future development of Internet in Cuba will likely still be a slow affair. Likewise, while the server is in place and has gone live, it's reportedly experiencing some early issues and Cubans still aren't getting connected to it automatically, BuzzFeed News reports. Although some Google products were previously available in the country in an unofficial capacity, 2014 saw the rollout of Google Analytics, the Google Play Store, and Chrome. With the launch of Google's server in Cuba, the Mountain View-based tech giant became the first Internet company to host content in the island country.
In March 2016, Google launched a bid to provide free high-speed Internet in Cuba, then followed up on that initiative with a deal it signed in December with Cuba's state telecom company ETECSA to help establish the Google Global Cache for Cuba. At the same time, Google said that people in Cuba who already had Internet access could expect better service and less latency because of the local storage. However, this did not refer to those who do not already have access to the Internet, which is why the company launched a pilot program that connected 2,000 Cuban homes to the Internet, though it remains to be seen whether the majority of households in the country will be able to pay for the service once the trial period comes to an end.