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May 07 2014

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Snapshot: 2014 update of Internet speeds and pricing across the Caribbean

A 2014 update of fixed Internet broadband speeds and pricing across the Caribbean, and a brief comparison with our 2013 results.

As the Internet becomes increasingly important across the Caribbean, the telecoms providers across the region are continually adjusting and refining their offerings in that market. Since 2011, we have been tracking fixed Internet broadband speeds and pricing across the Caribbean. This year is no different. Again, we are updating our findings, and highlighting some of the changes that have occurred since the 2013 exercise.

Methodology

Table 1:  List of ISPs surveyed for 2014 Snapshot exercise (Source: ICT Pulse)

Table 1: List of ISPs surveyed for 2014 Snapshot exercise (Source: ICT Pulse)

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 fixed/wired (non-dialup) Internet services, and on service plans for domestic/residential customers.

The offerings from the ISPs varied drastically with respect to transmission speeds, hence the exercise was limited to identifying (per country):

  1. the lowest advertised download speed and the corresponding lowest monthly rate
  2. the highest advertised download speed and the corresponding lowest monthly rate
  3. the monthly rate for a plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps (Megabits per second), and
  4. 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 for the comparisons performed.

Finally, it is emphasised that the review focused on the monthly rates payable for the specified Internet plans only. The exercise 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.

May 2014 results

In this our 2014 review of Internet speed and spend across the Caribbean, we have widened the pool from 16 to 19, by including Aruba, Curacao and Suriname, from the Dutch Caribbean. Table 2 shows the minimum and maximum advertised download speeds available in those countries, and the corresponding best rates offered for those packages.

Table 2: Lowest and highest advertised download speeds and the corresponding best rates in select Caribbean countries as at May 2014 (Source: ISP websites)

Table 2: Lowest and highest advertised download speeds and the corresponding best rates in select Caribbean countries as at May 2014 (Source: ISP websites)

In 12 of the 19 countries surveyed, the lowest download speeds offered is under 2 Mbps, but Aruba Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands, have Internet packages with download speeds as low as 128 kbps. Fifteen countries offer broadband packages with a maximum advertised download speed of at least 8 Mbps. The exceptions are Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname. However, ISPs in Curacao, Grenada, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are offering customers Internet plans with advertised download speeds of up 100 Mbps, and in Barbados, a160 Mbps plan has been advertised.

With regard to the best price across the region for a broadband Internet plan with an advertised download speed of up to 2 Mbps, Figure 1 ranks the best prices offered by country. It is highlighted that Guyana has been excluded from this assessment as the ISPs included in this review have not published pricing for a 2Mbps plan – the fastest plan is 1 Mbps. The lowest advertised price was recorded in Trinidad and Tobago, at USD 21.63, and is followed by Curacao, USD 24.51, and Jamaica at USD 28.18. On the other hand, the highest prices for a 2 Mbps plan, USD 121.22, was recorded in Belize, and was followed by the British Virgin Islands (USD 84.00) and the Turks and Caicos islands (USD 83.00). The average price across the Caribbean region for a 2 Mbps Internet plan, excluding Guyana, is now USD 48.81.

Figure 1:  Monthly rates payable for an Internet plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps for select Caribbean countries as of May 2014 (Source: ISP websites)

Figure 1: Monthly rates payable for an Internet plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps for select Caribbean countries as of May 2014 (Source: ISP websites)

To assess “bang for buck”, and in each country, we sought to determine what might be fastest Internet broadband plan a customer could purchase for no more than USD 60.00 per month. The results are shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2:  Best Internet plan by advertised download speed for under USD 60.00 in select Caribbean countries as of May 2014 (Source: ISP websites)

Figure 2: Best Internet plan by advertised download speed for under USD 60.00 in select Caribbean countries as of May 2014 (Source: ISP websites)

The fastest plan was found in the Bahamas, where for USD 56.99, the monthly subscription for a plan with an advertised download speed of up to 30 Mbps could be secured. The next fastest plans, 25 Mbps, were found in Jamaica and Barbados, at approximately USD 39.86 and USD 50.00, respectively.

On other hand, the slowest Internet plan, 512 kbps, was recorded in Belize, and would cost approximately USD 44.45. The next slowest plans, 1 Mbps, were recorded in Guyana, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Antigua and Barbuda at approximately USD 49.10, USD 53.00, and USD 54.50, respectively.

Comparison with 2013 results

Within the past year, a number of important changes have occurred in Internet speed and pricing across the Caribbean. First, a few countries, specifically, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands have increased the download speed of their slowest plan, from 1Mbps, to 2 Mbps. Second, the fastest advertised download speed has increased in three countries:

  • Barbados – from 100 Mbps, to 160 Mbps
  • Cayman Islands – from 8 Mbps, to 25 Mbps
  • Grenada – from 12 Mbps, to 100 Mbps

Additionally, there have been some significant changes in the Internet pricing in the region. Figure 3 shows the difference in pricing between May 2013 and May 2014 for an Internet plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps. The change in pricing ranged from an increase of almost +14% in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, to a decrease of almost -40% in Trinidad and Tobago.

Figure 3:  Percentage change in monthly rates between May 2013 and May 2014 for an Internet plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps in select Caribbean countries (Source: ICT Pulse)

Figure 3: Percentage change in monthly rates between May 2013 and May 2014 for an Internet plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps in select Caribbean countries (Source: ICT Pulse)

Finally, in averaging the price for a 2 Mbps plan across all of the countries surveyed (but excluding Guyana, as per the reason provided above), the averaged price dropped by USD 5.22 since May 2013. Between May 2012 and May 2013, the decrease in the average price across the region was USD 11.34, which is more than twice what occurred within the past year.

Based on the results recorded over the past three years, 2012—2014, the rate of decline in the pricing of a 2 Mbps plan may be slowing down. However, the extent to which such a trend can be confirmed remains to be seen, as the cost of technology continues to drop and local ISPs aim to remain competitive.

 

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About the author

Michele Marius

Michele Marius has a wealth of experience in the telecoms and ICT space, which has been gained in the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, and in the public and private sectors. She is the Editor and Publisher of ICT Pulse.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ict-pulse.com/2014/05/snapshot-2014-update-internet-speeds-pricing-caribbean/

20 comments

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  1. Others?

    I’m interested in how this data compares to others countries.

    1. Michele Marius

      What countries do you have in mind?

  2. Arnold

    Guyana upgraded the 1MB to 2MB burstable.

    Great article!

    1. Michele Marius

      Hi Arnold,

      Thanks for the positive feedback.

      Which ISP is now offering 2 Mbps burstable? If it is GT&T or eNetworks, I am not sure they have not revised the advertised offerings on their websites to reflect that development…

  3. nielharper

    Given the fact that in most countries in the Caribbean the local loop is bundled with broadband access, these figures are somewhat misleading. For example, in Barbados the cost of the landline service is another USD$21.98. Hence, the real cost of Internet service is $30.00 + $21.98 = $51.98. I believe the same scenario is quite standard across most of the countries in the region. $0.02.

    1. Michele Marius

      Hi nielharper,

      While i do agree with you regarding the principle of the local loop and local loop unbundling, do recall that in the article it was stated that the comparison would be limited to the monthly subscription rate payable for fixed Internet service only. There may be additional costs and fees payable, but those were not being considered in the assessment conducted.

      Second, your comment suggests that it is not possible to have Internet service at home without having a landline service, i.e. a fixed-line telephone, but that is really not the case.

      In many of Caribbean countries, you can have your landline services from one provider and your Internet from another. Also, with regard to billing for Internet service, typically, it would not necessarily include a separate charge for the “landline” per se, especially if that is the only service that is being utilised. Instead, the cost for the cabling would be incorporated into the month subscription rate advertised.

  4. Jeannette

    Hey Michele great article and a eye opener for Antigua. We talk about 4g but it’s a far cry.

    1. Michele Marius

      Thanks Jeannette!

      However, do note that 4G was not being covered in this article. It was limited to fixed-line Internet service only.

      In a few weeks, we should be publishing the results of our review of mobile broadband across the region, which we started last year. We look forward to your thoughts when it is published…

  5. Anonymous

    Great article. Just curious about this paragraph: “Additionally, there have been some significant changes in the Internet pricing in the region. Figure 3 shows the difference in pricing between May 2013 and May 2014 for an Internet plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps. The change in pricing ranged from an increase of almost +14% in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, to a decrease of almost -40% in Trinidad and Tobago.” Why was SVG used as the high end of the range when the graph seems to suggest it’s The Bahamas?

    1. Michele Marius

      There seems to be a disconnect between what Figure 3 is showing and what you are citing.

      Do note that Figure 3 is showing the change in price for a 2 Mbps plan between May 2013 and May 2014. The Bahamas no longer offers a 2 Mbps plan, and so was not included in Figure 3…

  6. Peter Levy (@peterlevy)

    Very informative. I do wish it would be possible to see a survey of ACTUAL download speeds as well.

    1. Michele Marius

      Peter,
      We are hoping to publish a Snapshot on this topic soon… ☺

      1. Henry Beaucejour

        Hi Michele
        can you provide me some info about Haiti…i cannot believe why they not on the list

        hb@sanftec.com

  7. avery

    FLOW in Barbados doubled their internet speeds. The max speed is not 300Mbps. It would be interesting to see how this affects the charts.

    1. Michele Marius

      Avery.
      I trust there is a typo in your statement re the availability of 300 MHz in the Barbados.
      Nevertheless, Flow has reportedly been rolling out 300 MHz service, via Fibre-to-the-Home, in a few countries across the region. However, I did not readily observe any information on that service, especially regarding pricing, on its websites…

      Having said this, FTTH is not yet available nationwide, and can only be accessed in areas in which the firm has deployed fibre. Hence although it might be available, only a handful of customers might live in locations where the service could be accessed…

  8. Philip Lewis

    Thank you for pulling this data together and summarizing so well Michele. Would you consider performing similar analysis on other telecommunications areas?

    1. Michele Marius

      Sure Philip.
      What areas did you have in mind?

  9. Shelly Ann Hee Chung

    Good day Michele,

    In reviewing the posts, I just wanted to clarify a few points regarding Columbus/ Flow’s service in the region, specifically Barbados. ‘Flow’ (Columbus’s residential brand) was launched in Barbados in April 2013 and is the first of Columbus’ residential markets to launch fibre to the home (FTTH) and IPTV video services. Barbados is the first and only market to date in the Caribbean to have access to broadband speeds of up to 300 mbps as of May 1, 2014; the fastest speeds available to residential customers in the Caribbean. As of May 1, Flow broadband customers with Turbo 10, 25, 75 and 150 packages were upgraded to receive double download and increased upload speeds at no additional cost. Our website is currently being updated to reflect the up to date information which is outlined above. To date, Flow’s services are available to over 57, 000 homes across Barbados (60% coverage) and by the end of 2014, we expect 85% of the island to have access to our services. I will be more than willing to provie additional informaton and clarity where necessary. are My email is shechung@columbus.co. Shelly Ann Hee Chung

    1. Michele Marius

      Hi Shelly Ann,

      Thank you for providing an update on Flow’s Internet offerings in Barbados.

      Looking forward to seeing how they compare across the region, and more so in Barbados, when the details published on the firm’s website have been updated.

  10. Shelly Ann Hee Chung

    Definitely and thanks. I am also available in the event you would like additional information.

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