A 2013 update of Internet speeds and pricing across the English-speaking Caribbean, and the extent to which they have changed since 2012.
Over the last two years, but most recently in May 2012, we provided a snapshot of Internet speeds and pricing across the English-speaking Caribbean. In this post and one year later, we are updating our findings, and discussing the changes that have occurred since our last review.
Data for this review was collected from the websites of widely used Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the countries covered. To the extent possible, two ISPs were examined in each country (Table 1), and the exercise focussed on non-dialup Internet services and to service plans for domestic/residential customers.
The offerings from the ISPs varied drastically in respect of transmission speeds, hence the exercise was limited to identifying (per country):
- the lowest advertised download speed and the corresponding lowest monthly rate
- the highest advertised download speed and the corresponding lowest monthly rate
- the monthly rate for a plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps, and
- the highest download speed plan that can be purchased for no more than USD 60.00 per month.
Under International Telecommunications Union standards, between 1.5 and 2 Mbps is considered the threshold speed for classifying an Internet service as broadband. Hence 2 Mbps has been used as a baseline reference to compare rates across the countries under review.
Finally, it is emphasised that the review focused on the monthly rates payable for specified Internet plans only. The exercise has excluded initial subscription and activation fees, as well as any additional monthly charges that might be applicable. The rates were converted to United States Dollars (USD) when required, based on current commercial exchange rates. Applicable taxes, such as Value Added Tax (VAT) or General Consumption Tax (GST), have also been included.
What are the May 2013 results?
Table 2 below highlights the minimum and maximum advertised download speeds available in the countries under review, and the corresponding best rates offered for those packages. In half of the countries surveyed, the lowest download speeds offered is 1 Mbps, however, Belize, Dominica, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago and Turks and Caicos Islands have Internet packages with download speeds as low as 128 kbps. Over 80% of the countries offer broadband packages with a maximum advertised download speed of at least 8 Mbps. However, it is only in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, that customers can purchase Internet plans with advertised download speeds of up 100 Mbps, and is followed by the Bahamas where a plan of up to 50 Mbps is available.
With regard to the best price for a broadband Internet plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps, and with the exception of Belize and Guyana, the monthly subscription is under USD 100.00, as shown in Figure 1. In Belize, the best rate appears to be USD 118.82, whilst in Guyana, the ISPs included in this exercise have not published pricing for a 2Mbps plan – the fastest plan is 1 Mbps. On the other hand, the lowest advertised price is USD 27.98 in Jamaica, whilst the highest is USD 90.24 in the Cayman Islands. The average price across the region for a 2 Mbps Internet plan, excluding Guyana only, is USD 55.40.
If a customer is prepared to pay around USD 60.00 per month for Internet service, the best value for money would be found in Barbados, where a plan with an advertised download speed of 25 Mbps would cost USD 50.00, as shown in Figure 2. On the other end of the spectrum are the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands, where based on the information available online, there is no Internet service plan for under USD 60.00. They are followed by Belize, which offers a 512 kbps plan for USD 43.57 and Antigua and Barbuda, which offers a 1 Mbps plan at USD 54.60.
How do these results compare with our 2012 results?
Over the past year, there have been some significant changes in the Internet pricing across the Caribbean, as reflected in Figure 3, which shows the difference in pricings between May 2012 and May 2013 for an Internet plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps. The change in pricing ranged from an increase of +15% in Dominica and Saint Lucia, to a decrease of almost -57% in Barbados. Additionally, since May 2012, taking the average across all the countries surveyed (but excluding Guyana), the price for a 2 Mbps plan dropped by almost USD 10.00, to USD 55.40.
With regard to the most dramatic changes that occurred in Internet broadband pricing since May 2012, the following reasons have been attributed:
- Barbados: As you might recall from a post we published in June 2012, Karib Cable and Flow: can these two companies change the Barbados Internet landscape?, considerable changes were anticipated with the entry of both Flow and Karib Cable into the Bajan market. Flow’s parent company, Columbus International, subsequently acquired all of Karib Cable operations, and would compete directly with the incumbent ISP in Barbados, LIME, in the provision of broadband Internet service.
Since taking over of Karib Cable’s Barbados operations, Flow has launched its own service offerings, which are consistent with those it offers in other jurisdictions. Hence the data speeds available range from 2 Mbps to 100 Mbps, with rates between USD 30.00 and USD 100.00 per month. At the same time, LIME has had to raise its game. In the past year, it has increased the Internet speeds in its packages from 1 Mbps to 6 Mbps, to now start at 6 Mbps up to 20 Mbps, and correspondingly has adjusted its prices
- Belize: Over the last 2 years Belize has been improving the speeds and pricing of their Internet broadband service offerings. Since 2012, the incumbent provider, Belize Telemedia Limited, reduced monthly prices by over 50%. It also added an 8 Mbps plan, which suffice it to say, is the most expensive plan across all of those that were assessed.
- Dominica and Saint Lucia: Since the last review, both Dominica and Saint Lucia have introduced a Value Added Tax. The tax, which is at 15%, has been added to Internet pricing (which themselves had not changed), and accounts for the difference between the 2012 and current rates.