Snapshot: 2015 update of Internet speeds and pricing across the Caribbean
A 2015 update of fixed Internet broadband speeds and pricing across the Caribbean, and a brief comparison with our 2014 results.
As the Internet becomes increasingly important across the Caribbean, the telecoms providers themselves are continually adjusting and refining their offerings in that market. Since 2011, we, here at ICT Pulse, have been tracking fixed Internet broadband speeds and pricing across the Caribbean. We are updating our findings, and highlighting some of the changes that have occurred since our last assessment exercise in 2014.
The methodology employed has remained unchanged from last year’s exercise, and we have maintained country pool of 19 Caribbean countries as highlighted in the sections below.
Data 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 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 (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 when comparing prices across the Caribbean.
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 (GCT), have also been included.
The 2015 results
Table 2 shows the minimum and maximum advertised download speeds available in those countries, and the corresponding best rates offered for those packages.
In 13 of the 19 countries surveyed, the lowest download speeds offered is 2 Mbps and under. ISPs in Aruba Belize and Guyana are still offering Internet plans with advertised download speeds of 256 kbps. Sixteen countries offer broadband packages with a maximum advertised download speed of at least 8 Mbps. The exceptions are Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Suriname. However, more ISPs, such those in Curacao, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago are offering customers Internet plans with advertised download speeds of up 100 Mbps, and in Barbados and the Cayman Islands, plans of 300 Mbps and over are being offered to domestic customers.
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 prices by country. It is highlighted that the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guyana and the Turks and Caicos Islands have been excluded from this assessment, as the ISPs reviewed do not offer a 2 Mbps plan – though plans with higher download speeds are available.
The lowest advertised price was recorded in Trinidad and Tobago, at USD 22.15, followed by Grenada, USD 24.48 and Curacao, USD 24.55. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the highest prices for a 2 Mbps plan was USD 69.49 in Belize, and was followed by the Antigua and Barbuda (USD 62.20) and Anguilla (USD 39.38). The average price across the Caribbean region for a 2 Mbps Internet plan is USD 37.89.
To gauge the “bang for buck” of the Internet plans offered, and for each country included in this year’s assessment exercise, 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 and Figure 3.
The fastest plan was found in Barbados, where for USD 50.00 per month a plan with an advertised download speed of up to 50 Mbps could be secured. The next fastest plans, 30 Mbps and 25 Mbps, were found in the Bahamas and Jamaica, at approximately USD 56.99 and USD 40.47, respectively. Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines also have 25 Mbps plans available for under USD 60.00 – at USD 49.69 in both countries.
On other hand, the slowest Internet plan, 1 Mbps, was recorded in Antigua and Barbuda, and would cost approximately USD 47.48. The next slowest plans, 1 Mbps and 2 Mbps were recorded in Belize and Dominica, with a monthly rate of approximately USD 43.68 and USD 31.65, respectively.
How do the 2015 results compare with those from last year?
Since our last review in 2014, there have been significant changes in Internet speed and pricing across the Caribbean. First, download speeds increased and rates decreased in several countries across the region, for example:
- Anguilla – faster Internet plans, with revised prices, are being advertised
- Bahamas –faster Internet plans are being advertised
- Barbados – the download speed of the fastest plan doubled, from 160 Mbps, to 320 Mbps
- Belize – the 128 kbps plan is no longer offered, a 16 Mbps plan was added, and the rates were lowered
- British Virgin Islands – faster Internet plans are being advertised
- Cayman Islands – faster Internet plans, with revised rates, are being advertised, including a 300 Mbps plan
- Curacao – some rates were adjusted for specific plans
- Guyana – faster Internet plans are being advertised
- Saint Lucia – faster Internet plans, with revised rates, are being advertised, including a 100 Mbps plan
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – faster Internet plans, with revised rates, are being advertised, including a 100 Mbps plan
- Trinidad and Tobago – Internet plans using fibre-to-the-home technology are being advertised
- Turks and Caicos Islands – faster Internet plans, with revised prices, are being advertised.
With specific reference to an Internet plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps, Figure 4 shows the difference in pricings between May 2014 and June 2015. The change in pricing ranged from an increase of almost 6.1% in Jamaica, to a decrease of almost -53.3% in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
In averaging the price for a 2 Mbps plan across all of the countries surveyed the averaged price dropped by approximately USD 14.04 since May 2014, which again indicates that Internet prices are indeed decreasing in the Caribbean.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that with the recent completion of the sale of Columbus International, which owned the Flow brand in the region, to Cable and Wireless Communication plc (CWC), which owns the LIME brand, the full impact of that transaction on broadband Internet speed and pricing in the region has not yet been fully realised. In the coming months, we thus likely to witness some major changes in the Internet space, as CWC rolls out its strategy for the region.