Obama's Cuba Internet Projects: 99% Hype, 1% Substance

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Excerpt by Dr. Larry Press, California State University Professor, in The Internet in Cuba:

Google's wireless connectivity is the biggest disappointment. I've speculated on significant infrastructure and content investments Google could conceivably make in Cuba, but all they announced was a single WiFi hotspot at the studio of Cuban artist Kcho. Google supplied 20 Acer Chromebooks and a number of Nexus 5 phones with Cardboard viewers, and got a lot of publicity in return. Perhaps this is a necessary relationship-building step (Kcho is well connected), but in itself this hotspot is less than a drop in the bucket -- 99% hype and 1% substance, like Kcho's previous hotspot.

How about the deal with Stripe and their Cuban partner Merchise? In March, I contacted Merchise and Stripe to learn more about their business relationship. Merchise had nothing to say about their relationship with Stripe and Stripe said "Merchise is a partner in the the Stripe Atlas Network ... it isn't so much that we expect them to represent or market Stripe in Cuba; rather, if they know any specific entrepreneurs or businesses in Cuba for whom Stripe Atlas would be helpful, as a Network partner they can refer those entrepreneurs to us for early access to the Atlas program."

Last week, I asked Stripe if anything had come of the partnership to date and was told they had no concrete updates, but they had "been in touch with many Cuban entrepreneurs." I also asked Cisco about the status of and plans for their Cuban project, and was told that at this time they had nothing to add to what was said in the blog post announcing the relationship last March.

So far, nothing concrete and significant has come of the Internet projects Obama announced.