While Internet connectivity is essential in today’s always-on world, cost often determines proliferation. Broadband is now the most accessible and available form of access for most people in the world. But it comes at a price, and the challenging geography of the Caribbean islands has put us on the more expensive side.
A report out of the UK measuring the wide disparities in pricing among 3,303 fixed lines across 195 countries, shows Haiti ranks (195) as the most expensive in the Caribbean and the entire world at an almost criminal US$207.39 per monthly average. The report included data for 27 out of 30 of the Caribbean’s states, and surprisingly, the Collectivity of France Saint Martin is the cheapest, at US$27.38 per monthly average.
The report by Cable.co.uk highlighted factors that affect the cost, breaking it down by region and country. One reason that affects broadband prices in the Caribbean is that mobile 4G/LTE services is cheaper and more readily available.
A notable exclusion from the Caribbean is Cuba. Internet access there is poor mainly due to lack of funding, tight government restrictions and the U.S. embargo. Recently, the Government introduced state-run public access Internet (Wi-Fi) cybercafés for the general population. But home-based broadband Internet access is virtually nonexistent – with overall Internet penetration at a lowly 38.8%.
Globally, prices are lower as infrastructure and access improve. But faster service and improved access doesn’t always translate into better prices as market forces play a role in the cost structure. In the United States, for instance, broadband duopoly does not create a healthy, open marketplace as in the United Kingdom which boasts the fifth cheapest broadband in the world.
It’s become clear that connectivity affects national growth and that where there is sophisticated digital infrastructure businesses are more agile and can better meet the demands or the market.