Snapshot: update of actual Internet download speeds from across the Caribbean, 2017

An update of actual Internet download speeds in select Caribbean countries, which are compared with results recorded in 2015.

 

In May 2014, we launched a new Snapshot that presented actual (real life) upload and download speeds from across the Caribbean. By the end of the following year, the data was no longer publicly available, and we were unable to find a suitable source that tracked and included data on the Caribbean/CARICOM region to replace that which had been lost… until now.

We are thus thrilled to share and discuss the outcome of recent Internet download speed test results for 10 Caribbean countries, and compare them with those recorded two years ago.

Methodology

Consistent with previous exercises, our source for the Internet speed data is Ookla, a recognised provider of broadband testing and web-based network diagnostic applications. However, the methodology the firm employed has changed since our last update in 2015.

Previously, there was an almost real-time update of Internet speeds recorded worldwide, and the figures published represented “a rolling mean speed in Megabits per second (Mbps) over the past 30 days” (Source:  ICT Pulse). Currently, the global speed test results published are updated only once per month, based on the test results recorded during the previous month.

Additionally, in order for the download speed results for a particular country to be published, a minimum number of unique data points must be recorded. For fixed broadband Internet, which the focus of our review, over 3,000 unique data points are required. As a result, only the following 10 Caribbean countries, out of 133 countries listed, were included in the July 2017 fixed broadband Internet speed update:

  1. Bahamas
  2. Barbados
  3. Belize
  4. Curacao
  5. Dominican Republic
  6. Guyana
  7. Jamaica
  8. Puerto Rico
  9. Suriname
  10. Trinidad and Tobago.

What kind of download speeds are being experienced in Caribbean countries?

Although the number of Caribbean countries for which publicly available Internet download speed data is relatively small, the actual countries themselves are diverse, and so could still give us a sense of how Internet speeds have changed across the region. Having said this, the fastest download speed was recorded in Barbados, at 44.45 Mbps, which – quite impressively – was also within the top 30 countries worldwide. Barbados, was followed by Trinidad and Tobago, and Puerto Rico, which were ranked within the top 50, and had download speeds in excess of 25 Mbps.

Table 1: Internet download speeds in select Caribbean countries as of July 2017 (Source: Ookla)

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the slowest download speed among the Caribbean countries listed, was recorded in Suriname. It was ranked 128 out of 133 countries, with a speed of 4.69 Mbps, which is just over a tenth of that in Barbados! Rounding out the bottom three are Guyana and Belize, both of which recorded download speeds of under 10 Mbps and were ranked within the last quarter of the countries listed.

Have country download speeds improved since 2015?

In 2015, and for most of the countries examined in 2017, there was considerable improvement in the download speeds recorded. In the countries for which there was improvement, it ranged from under 10% in Curacao, to over 200% in Barbados (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Changes in download speeds in select Caribbean countries between June 2015 and July 2017 (Source: Ookla)

However, it is highlighted that in Suriname, the typical download speed recorded in July 2017 was less that what was reported in our June 2015 survey.  In 2015, the typical download speed was 5.12 Mbps, but as of last month, it was 4.69 Mbps, a drop of 8%.

As previously stated, based on the group of Caribbean countries examined, we can still make a decent determination of how Internet speeds have changed across the region. In June 2015, and for 28 Caribbean countries, the average download speed was 9.65 Mbps. For the 10 countries under currently review, and as of July 2017, the average download speed was 18.78 Mbps, nearly double that determined in 2015. Further, when the 2015 countries data is limited to the 10 Caribbean countries for which 2017 data is available, the average download speed was 10.24 Mbps – just slightly more than for the full complement of 28 countries – but still considerably less than the more recently determined average.

In summary, generally, the actually Internet download speeds experienced by Caribbean end-users have been increasing, which is corroborated by the faster in the faster broadband Internet plans that are now available. As noted and discussed in our most recent internet speed and spend Snapshot, the advertised download speeds of the plans have increasing. Nearly 60% of countries listed offered broadband Internet plans with advertised download speeds at least 50 Mbps; in 2015, it was just over 40% of countries.

 

Image credit:  Amiroo Hosseini (Pexels)

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