Household Internet connections in Cayman are getting faster, but lag behind other countries in the region, according to data from Ookla, a company that monitors download speeds for consumers.
Ookla data shows that average home download rates have increased from about 11 Megabits per second to roughly 12.5Mbps. The company captures the data through its popular, free Internet speed test for consumers to find out how fast their connection is. The data shows that the Cayman Islands lags behind Aruba, the Bahamas, Curacao and eight other countries in the Caribbean.
Download speed at home is what determines how well a customer can stream a movie on Netflix or browse Amazon. The study from Ookla looks at all home connections and takes the mean number, so it includes older broadband connections and the new fast fiber network downloads.
Originally reported by ICT Pulse, which follows information and communications technology issues in the Caribbean, the Ookla report looks at 200 countries around the world to compare download speeds. The Cayman Islands came in at 87th in the global rankings. Cuba ranked 199th.
The highest download speeds recorded in the report are in Singapore, where the average household connects at more than 120Mbps. The average speed in the Caribbean, according to the data from June 2015, was 9.65Mbps.
Aruba, which connects at 22.8Mbps, has the fastest download speed for households in the region. Also ahead of Cayman, in order, are Curacao, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Bonaire, Statia and Saba, and Martinique.
The bottleneck for the Cayman Islands and other Caribbean countries is the connection off-island. A Netflix server might be somewhere in Mexico or Florida, but not in Cayman. Home connections have to go through what’s known as “the pipe,” a network of undersea cables connecting the islands to the mainland.
The primary lines to the mainland go from LIME’s main center in George Town out to Cancun and Miami, and secondary lines go to the Brac and onto Jamaica, adding redundancy to the system in case one connection is having problems or needs routine maintenance.
Julie Hutton, with LIME, said, “Actual connect speeds depend on the … server and link capacity at any given time of the day. Evening in the U.S. and Caribbean could prove to be busy and congested times for these companies, but we would expect them to dimension capacity accordingly.”
Cayman’s telecom companies have been working feverishly to roll out fiber networks across the island, promising ever-faster Internet speeds and making millions of dollars in investments to bring the new technology to Cayman consumers.
Government statistics show telecom imports are up by more than $10 million over the past five years as home Internet service providers LIME, Logic and C3 compete for customers. Most of LIME’s customers on all three islands are already wired for fiber, according to a company spokeswoman.
Logic has a contract with government that will eventually require the company to roll out fiber connections across Grand Cayman. C3, the newest player and part of Hurley’s Entertainment, started working in South Sound and continues to expand its network from there.
Russell Richardson, general counsel of the Information and Communications Technology Authority, said in an earlier interview, “The demand for better broadband connectivity and access to faster and faster broadband speeds in the Cayman Islands, prompted by more people owning Internet-enabled electronic devices, will only increase.”