Features — 13 May 2014 — by Kareem Clarke
Regional report says Belize’s internet rates are costly, while speed is sluggish

Two days ago, ICT Pulse – a telecoms analyst which has been comparing internet speeds and pricing across the Caribbean on an annual basis since 2011 – reported that Belize’s internet plan is not only one of the slowest in the Caribbean, but it is also the most expensive as compared to 18 other Caribbean countries.

The lowest available download speeds in 12 of the 19 countries surveyed, was below 2 megabytes per second, with Aruba, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Turks and Caicos Islands having internet packages with download speeds as low as 128 kilobytes per second, while 15 countries offer broadband packages with a maximum advertised download speed of at least 8 megabytes per second, with the exception of Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname.

Currently, there are 6 countries offering a maximum of 8 megabytes per second, and 5 of them – Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St. Kitts, the Turks and Caicos – do so for less than US $150, while Belize offers the same service for USD $353.57.

The study also looked at the best 2-megabyte-per-second (Mbps) plans available and Belize was rated as having the highest price for a 2 megabyte connection at $121.22.

The lowest advertised price for 2Mbps service was recorded in Trinidad and Tobago at USD $21.63, followed by Curacao at USD $24.51 and Jamaica at USD $28.18, and the highest prices for a 2 Mbps plan, on the other hand, were recorded in Belize (USD $121.22), the British Virgin Islands (USD $84.00) and the Turks and Caicos Islands (USD $83.00). The average price across the Caribbean region for a 2 Mbps Internet plan, excluding Guyana, is now USD $48.81.

While we were at the top of the pack in terms of price, Belize is interestingly at the bottom of the barrel in terms of internet speed and is notably the only country which still offers a speed of 128 megabytes per second.

According to the study, it is possible to access speeds of 30 megabytes per second for less than $60 in the Bahamas, while in Belize, the most one could get for that price is a 512 kilobyte connection.

The fastest plan was found in the Bahamas, where the monthly subscription plan with an advertised download speed of up to 30 Mbps could be secured for USD $56.99.

The next fastest plans – offering a speed of 25 Mbps — were found in Jamaica and Barbados, at approximately USD $39.86 and USD $50.00 respectively.

On the other hand, the slowest internet plan (512 Kbps) was recorded in Belize and would cost approximately USD $44.45, while the next slowest plan (1 Mbps) was recorded in Guyana, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Antigua and Barbuda at approximately USD $49.10, USD $53.00, and USD $54.50, respectively.

Of note is that 1,000 kilobytes is equivalent to 1 megabyte and that data for the review was collected from the websites of the most widely used Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the countries covered and focused on fixed/wired (non-dialup) Internet services and on service plans for domestic/residential customers.

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