Google has become the first foreign ISP to host Internet content in Cuba.
The company confirmed via an April 27 email to eWEEK that its Google Global Cache (GCC) service has gone live in the Cuba, but provided no other details.
Cuba’s government-owned telecommunications company ETECSA will use the GGC service to cache YouTube videos and other high-bandwidth content so it can be delivered faster to local Internet users.
However, the start of Google’s caching service in Cuba was first confirmed by an executive with Dyn, the internet performance management company owned by Oracle.
“Google’s GGC nodes in Cuba finally went active in the past 24 hours,” said Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at Dyn, in an emailed statement on April 26. “It is a milestone as this is the first time an outside Internet company has hosted anything in Cuba,” he noted.
Google announced plans to launch its GGC service in Cuba last December when it entered into a partnership with ETECSA. At the time the company described the effort as aimed at improving service quality for Cuban Internet users seeking to access Google services in the country.
GGC is one of three distinct elements of Google’s massive global network infrastructure. It is the internet services that the company uses to speed up delivery of popular static content including YouTube videos to users around the world.
GGC allows Google to cache popular content on so-called edge nodes, which are basically Google-supplied systems that are located inside ISP networks around the world. When users request certain content, the request is routed to the nearest edge node where the content is available and served from there thereby eliminating the need for it to be fetched from Google’s central data centers.
“The primary benefit of GCC servers is caching traffic-intensive YouTube videos,” Madory posted on a Dyn blog earlier this year. “The benefit can be tremendous.”
Cuba for instance, is connected to the global Internet via a single submarine cable dubbed ALBA-1 that is paid for by the Venezuelan government. Without a content delivery service such as GGC every request for a YouTube video for instance would need to go out and come back in via the cable.
“Instead of pulling a popular video over the ALBA-1 submarine cable say 1,000 times in a day, it can be pulled once, cached, then quickly delivered from GGC servers inside ETECSA another 999 times,” Madory said.
The availability of GGC however will not by itself broaden Internet availability for Cuban citizens. It will only make Google service easier and faster to access from inside the island nation for those who already have Internet access.
A report in the Cuba Business Report earlier this year described Cuba as having one of the lowest Internet connectivity rates in the world with barely 5 percent of its population having access to the Internet. Prior to 2013, the country relied on Russian satellites for its Internet connectivity.
The ALBA-1 undersea link has improved connectivity and increased connectivity speeds. Cubans who want to access the Internet can now do so at one of ETECSA’s 118 offices around the country. But access remains relatively expensive for many Cubans, the report noted.
Another arrangement between ETECSA and the U.K’s C&W Networks disclosed this January also promises broader connectivity and much faster speeds for Cubans the Cuba Business Report noted.