Snapshot: 2017 update of Internet speeds and pricing across the Caribbean

A 2017 update of fixed Internet broadband speeds and pricing across the Caribbean.

 

Finally! We are continuing our efforts to track the changes that have been occurring across the Caribbean with respect to fixed Internet broadband speeds and pricing.  In the paragraphs below, we summarise our findings and briefly share some observations we have made since our 2016 exercise.

Methodology

Table 1: ISPs surveyed in 2017 assessment

The methodology employed for this exercise has remained unchanged. 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 (non-dialup) Internet services, and on service plans for domestic/residential customers. This year, 19 Caribbean countries were examined.

The offerings from the ISPs varied drastically in respect of transmission speeds, hence our review has been  limited to determining the following for each country:

  1. the lowest advertised download speed and the corresponding lowest monthly rate
  2. the highest advertised download speed and the corresponding lowest monthly rate
  3. the monthly rate for a plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps (Megabits per second), and
  4. 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) for ease of comparison.

2017 broadband Internet speed and prices

Table 2 shows the minimum and maximum advertised download speeds available in the 19 countries examined, along with the corresponding best rates offered for those download speeds.

Table 2: Lowest and highest advertised download speeds and the corresponding best rates in select Caribbean countries as at June 2017 (Source: ISP websites)

In 7 of the 19 countries, the lowest download speeds offered is under 2 Mbps. ISPs in Aruba, Belize, Cayman Islands, Guyana and Saint Kitts and Nevis continue to offer Internet plans with advertised download speeds of under 1 Mbps (e.g. 256 kbps and 512 kbps). With the exception of Antigua and Barbuda and Suriname, all other countries offer plans with an advertised 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 and Trinidad and Tobago, plans with an advertised download speed of 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) is being offered to residential customers, although in Trinidad and Tobago it is not yet available islandwide.

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 most offer plans with considerably higher download speeds.

Figure 1: Monthly rates payable for an Internet plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps for select Caribbean countries as of June 2017 (Source: ISP websites)

The lowest advertised price was recorded in Suriname, at USD 18.48, followed by Trinidad and Tobago, USD 19.21, and Jamaica, USD 21.93. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the highest prices for a 2 Mbps plan was recorded in Antigua and Barbuda (USD 62.20), followed by Belize (USD 42.00), and Anguilla (USD 39.38). The average price across the Caribbean region for a 2 Mbps Internet plan is USD 33.36

To get a sense of the cost-effectiveness of the plans available across the region, we sought to determine what might be 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.

Figure 2: Fastest Internet plan by advertised download speed for under USD 60.00 in select Caribbean countries as of June 2017 (Source: ISP websites)

Although not shown in Figure 3, the fastest plan was found in Barbados, where for USD 52.50 per month a plan with an advertised download speed of up to 150 Mbps could be secured. The next fastest plans, 100 Mbps and 60 Mbps, were found in the Aruba (not shown in Figure 3) and Trinidad and Tobago, at approximately USD 44.62 and USD 58.00, respectively.

Figure 3: Fastest Internet plan by advertised download speed for under USD 60.00 and the corresponding monthly rate in select Caribbean countries as of June 2017 (Source: ISP websites)

On other hand, the slowest Internet plan, 512 kbps, was recorded in the Cayman Islands, and would cost approximately USD 48.78. The next slowest plans, 1 Mbps and 2 Mbps, were recorded in Antigua and Barbuda and Belize, with monthly rates of approximately USD 47.48 and USD 42.00, respectively.

How do this year’s results compare with those from 2016?

Since our last review, increasingly, we are seeing the effects of the merger of Flow and LIME operations across the region, along with the continued introduction of Digicel Play in select countries, which uses of and fibre technologies to offer voice telephony, subscriber television and broadband Internet. As a result, and in may Caribbean countries, rates have changed – in some instances they were increased marginally, but frequently they were lowered – and download speeds in particular, were increased from what obtained in 2016. Hence, overall, the average rate payable for a 2 Mbps plan dropped by USD 6.82, from USD 40.17 in 2016, to USD 33.36.

Having said this, a significant decrease in broadband Internet rates  from current levels is not anticipated. Instead, ISPs are likely to maintain current rates, which directly affect their revenues, but increase the download – and even the upload – speeds their subscribers enjoy.

 

Image credit:  Timo Newton-Syms (flickr)

_____________