Following from our previous post, we tracked actual Internet upload speeds in 27 Caribbean countries and compared those results with readings recorded in May 2014.
In our previous article, we presented data on actual download speeds across the Caribbean as of 23 September, which updated our initial findings when the exercise was first launched in May 2014. At that time, in May, we also recorded actual upload speeds for 28 countries across the Caribbean, which we presented, and kept to provide a baseline for future assessments.
In this article, we share the results of our recent re-examination of upload speeds across the Caribbean, as of 23 September. Further, using the data from the May exercise, we are now able to compare how upload speed and country ranking have changed over the past four months.
Similar to the May 2014 exercise, the data for this assessment was drawn from Internet speed tests conducted by Ookla, a recognised provider of broadband testing and web-based network diagnostic applications. Using the results of its speed test applications, it is able to continuously track Internet speeds and performance globally. Ookla has formulated two indices – a Household Upload Index and a Household Download Index – which compare and rank consumer upload and download speeds worldwide (192 countries), and present them as a rolling mean speed in Megabits per second (Mbps) over the past 30 days.
The results presented in the next section were recorded on 23 September 2014 for the countries listed in Table 1. As indicated in our previous article on actual download speeds, published on 24 September, there were no results for Bonaire, Statia (St. Eustatius) and Saba; hence they have been excluded.
Caribbean Internet upload speeds
Internet upload speeds varied considerably across the 27 Caribbean countries examined, as shown in Figure 1. The fastest upload speed was recorded in Haiti, which was ranked 59th out of the 192 countries assessed, at 6.84 Mbps. It was followed by Curaçao, at 5.14 Mbps and 75th on the list, and Dominica at 4.75 Mbps, and 79th on the list. On the other hand, the slowest upload speeds were recorded in Cuba, 0.71 Mbps, which was 186th out of 192 countries. Immediately above Cuba was Guadeloupe, 1.22 Mbps and ranked 173rd, and Belize, at 1.56 Mbps, at 166 out of 192 countries. The average upload speed across the Caribbean countries examined was 2.82 Mbps.
For other international country groupings, their averaged upload speeds were as follows:
- APEC: 10.50 Mbps
- EU: 9.10 Mbps
- G8: 10.60 Mbps
- OECD: 8.30 Mbps.
Worldwide, the fastest household Internet upload speeds were recorded in Hong Kong (89.14 Mbps); Singapore (63.27 Mbps); and South Korea (47.00 Mbps), and the global average was 9.10 Mbps.
What changes have occurred since May 2014?
Generally, household upload speeds have changed drastically over the past four months. The average speed across the Caribbean dropped by 0.05 Mbps, from 2.87 Mbps in May. However, across other groups of countries, increases in upload speeds were recorded:
- APEC: +1.00 Mbps
- EU: +1.10 Mbps
- G8: +1.00 Mbps
- OECD: +1.20 Mbps.
Figure 2 shows the changes in household upload speed in individual Caribbean countries. The greatest increases in uploads speeds were recorded in Haiti, by +3.74 Mbps, and followed by Dominica, which recorded a +1.66 Mbps increase, and Barbados, by +1.47 Mbps. Conversely, the top three countries where upload speeds reportedly slowed considerably were: St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with a drop of -9.65 Mbps; Saint Martin, where the average upload speed slowed by -4.08 Mbps; and the Bahamas, with a decrease of -1.64 Mbps.
Similar to the observation made when examining the download speed results, the countries that now recorded slower uploads than in May, were likely to slip in the country rankings, which is presented in Figure 3. However, there were exceptions: the Dominican Republic, which recorded a 0.12 Mbps increase in upload speed, dropped seven places; Saint Kitts and Nevis, which recorded a 0.01 Mbps increase in upload speed, dropped 14 places
It is also interesting to note that the United States Virgin Islands, which maintained its position in the ranking, at 102, had recorded a 0.44 Mbps increase in its upload speed. Hence, with other countries worldwide continually improving their Internet speeds, marginal improvements might not be enough for a country to maintain its position on the leader board.
In most countries worldwide, including those in the Caribbean, Internet upload speeds are several times slower than that for download. In the region, we are not necessarily seen as major creators of content, and to an appreciable extent, relatively little content is actually hosted in the Caribbean. Instead, we are seen as significant consumers of content – most of which is hosted outside of the Caribbean. As a result, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) tend to allocate considerably greater bandwidth for downloading, than for uploading.
Having said this, the inclusive nature and corresponding impact of social networks to encourage engagement generally, and in the Caribbean specifically, ought not to be underestimated. Thanks to social networks, hundreds of thousands and even millions of Caribbean residents have become creators of content. They are continually uploading photos, video clips, and large volumes of text/comments, all of which consume bandwidth.
It therefore means that Caribbean ISPs may need to give some consideration to increasing the bandwidth allocated for uploading, so that their consumers can experience improved upload speeds and better performance in the future.