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.
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):
- 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 (Megabits per second), 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.