Snapshot: 2015 update on the state of telecoms in the Caribbean
An update of fixed-line, mobile/cellular and fixed-broadband Internet take up across select Caribbean countries, as of 2014.
This year, 2015, marks our fifth review of telecoms services take up – in terms of subscriptions density in the fixed-line telephony, mobile/cellular and fixed broadband Internet markets – across the Caribbean. Table 1 lists the countries that were included in the exercise, which has not changed since 2014. It should be noted that countries such as Bonaire, Curaçao and Sint Maarten have not been included, as subscription density data for the period under review does not appear to be publicly available for those countries.
The results presented in the next sections have been drawn from data published by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). However, we emphasise that although the ITU has established clear definitions for all of the indicators it collects, the countries are charged with supplying the data to the organisation. Hence it is not clear the extent to which the ITU corroborates or validates the data it publishes, and neither have any explanations been given for any anomalies that might be evident.
The per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP), purchasing power parity (PPP), for the countries examined was drawn from a number of resources, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the CIA World Factbook. The latter was especially useful for countries that are colonies or dependencies of other countries, such as Anguilla, Aruba, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Results: Fixed-line telephony market
Across the Caribbean, there is a wide disparity in fixed-line telephone subscription densities across the 22 countries examined. The highest subscriber densities were reported in Montserrat, at approximately 60 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants; followed by the Cayman Islands, with almost 56 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, and Barbados, with nearly 53 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants (Figure 1).
On the other hand, the lowest fixed-line telephony subscriber density was reported in Haiti, at approximately 4 subscriptions per 1000 inhabitants (not per 100); Belize, at about 7 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants; and Jamaica, at around 9 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.
Results: Fixed broadband Internet market
In the 14 countries for which 2014 fixed broadband Internet subscription data was available, the Cayman Islands reported the highest subscription density, at nearly 40 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, as shown in Figure 2. The next highest subscription densities were reported in Barbados, at around 27 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants; and Montserrat, at about 24 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.
On the flipside, and for the 14 countries examined, the lowest fixed broadband Internet subscription density was reported in Haiti, with considerably less than 0 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. Haiti was followed by Jamaica and Guyana with approximately 5 and 6 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, respectively.
Results: Mobile/cellular market
Figure 3 shows the mobile/cellular subscription density in 21 Caribbean countries. Of the 21 examined, 14 countries reported mobile/cellular subscriptions densities over 100 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. The highest subscription levels were found in the Anguilla, at approximately 180 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, which was followed by Suriname, at around 171 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, and the British Virgin Islands at about 170 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.
The lowest mobile/cellular subscriptions densities were recorded in Cuba, at approximately 22 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. Belize has the second lowest of the group, at 50 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, and was followed by Haiti, with approximately 64 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants
Results: Region-wide trends
Figure 4 shows subscription penetration rates for fixed-line, mobile/cellular and fixed broadband Internet services averaged across the Caribbean over the past seven years, 2008—2014. Similar to previous exercises, it is readily observed that the subscription density for mobile/cellular service outstrips considerably those for fixed-line telephony and fixed broadband Internet. As at 2014, subscriptions density for fixed-line voice and fixed Internet broadband were still approximately a quarter and one-eighth that of mobile/cellular service, respectively.
Interestingly, and over the period under review, both the mobile/cellular and fixed-line voice services experienced a steady but slight decline in take up, whilst fixed broadband Internet is increasing – albeit at a relatively slow rate. As at the end of 2014, the averaged subscription densities across the region were approximately:
- 27 subscription lines per 100 inhabitants, for fixed-line, approximately, which is a slight decrease from that calculated in 2013
- 108 subscription per 100 inhabitants, for mobile/cellular, which is a 5 subscription per 100 inhabitants decrease from what obtained at the end of 2013
- 16 subscription lines per 100 inhabitants, for fixed Internet broadband, which is a 2 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants increase from our 2013 results.