An update of fixed Internet broadband speeds and pricing across the Caribbean in 2016.
Every year since 2011, ICT Pulse has 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 last exercise in June 2015.
The methodology employed has remained unchanged from last year’s exercise, but the number of Caribbean countries examined decreased by one to 18, based on the availability of the required information.
Data was collected from the websites of widely used Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the countries covered. To the extent possible, at least 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 (GST), were also included.
2016 broadband Internet speed and prices
Table 2 shows the minimum and maximum advertised download speeds available in the 18 countries examined, along with the corresponding best rates offered for those download speeds.
In 11 of the 18 countries surveyed, the lowest download speeds offered is 2 Mbps and under. ISPs in Aruba Belize and Guyana continue to offer Internet plans with advertised download speeds of 256 kbps. With the exception of Antigua and Barbuda, all other countries offer plans with a download speed of at least 10 Mbps. Nearly half of the ISPs are offering customers Internet plans with advertised download speeds of at least 100 Mbps; however, in Barbados a 1 Giga bit per second (Gbps) plan is being offered to residential 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 monthly rates payable by country. Consistent with the trend over the past few years, fewer countries are offering 2 Mbps plans; although plans permitting higher download speeds tend to be available.
The lowest advertised price was recorded in Jamaica, at USD 21.22, followed by Dominica, USD 27.53 and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, USD 33.44. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the highest price for a 2 Mbps plan was USD 70.09 in Belize, which was followed by the Antigua and Barbuda (USD 62.20) and Anguilla (USD 39.38). The average price across the eight countries examined for a 2 Mbps Internet plan is USD 40.17, an increase of almost USD 3.00, from USD 37.89 in 2015, based on 14 countries.
To assess “bang for buck” and in each country, we again sought to identify the fastest Internet broadband plan a customer can purchase for no more than USD 60.00 per month. The results are shown in Figure 2 and Figure 3. It should be noted that Barbados was included in Figure 2, but has been omitted in Figure 3, in order to better present the values for the other countries that were examined.
The fastest plan was found in Barbados, where for USD 55.00 per month a plan with an advertised download speed of up to 150 Mbps could be secured. The next fastest plans, which is 2.5 times slower, at 60 Mbps was found in the Trinidad and Tobago, at approximately USD 55.37. In third, was Dominican with a 32 Mbps, at approximately USD 54.84.
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 5Mbps were recorded in Belize and Guyana, with a monthly rate of approximately USD 43.68 and USD 48.39, respectively.
A few thoughts…
What a difference a year makes! Since our last review, the merging of Flow and LIME operations across the region has been completed. In most of the countries where both firms had a presence, the plans previously offered by LIME – which usually were slower plans – are no longer available, with those previously offered by Flow becoming the standard for the organisation.
Over the past year, Digicel has launched Digicel Play, using digital and fibre technologies to offer voice telephony, subscriber television and broadband Internet. To date, Digicel Play has been rolled out in Anguilla, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, with plans to soon add Saint Kitts and Nevis (Source: Digicel).
The aggressive posture Digicel appears to have adopted with respect to the broadband Internet plans it has been offering may augur well for even more cost effective prices for high speed Internet service across the region. While it remains to be seen whether or not, or the extent to which, Digicel’s current prices will remain, it is still likely to put pressure on the other players in the Internet space to up their game.
Image credit: Sean MacEntee (flickr)