By Florence Allan
Over recent decades, the Cayman Islands has developed a modern and sophisticated telecommunications infrastructure which has allowed the islands to offer some of the fastest internet services in the Caribbean. The extensive scope and quality of the telecommunications services offered has allowed Cayman to solidify itself as a top tourist destination and global financial centre, as residents and businesses can easily stay connected to the rest of the world.
There are over 45,000 total internet users in Cayman – which accounts for nearly 80% of the population – and more than 24,000 broadband subscriptions (source). Cayman’s level of internet users is approximately 10 percentage points higher than the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America (source).
How many providers are there?
There are two mobile telephone service providers on island – Digicel and FLOW. Both companies provide an international direct dialling service. These providers collectively serve 34,116 main line users and 95,656 mobile users across all three islands (source).
There are 17 licensed radio stations (source) serving the islands, playing a range of genres including pop, rock and reggae as well as the news, weather and talk shows. There are also four licensed TV service providers – FLOW, C3, Logic and Digicel (source) – who offer a range of local and international shows. Streaming is also a popular choice on island; however ,it should be noted that not all streaming services are available on island.
These four TV service providers also all offer broadband internet services in the Cayman Islands, offering wireless, fixed-line and fibre-optic connections. They all offer residential and business solutions for their clients and most offer bundle deals which can reduce the overall cost.
What services are offered?
Local providers offer wireless, fixed-line and fibre-optic internet connections. Fibre is relatively new to Cayman but is a popular choice due to its speed, reliability and security – this has encouraged FLOW to replace their outdated copper wires in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac (source).
All service providers on island offer both residential and business solutions for their customers, including internet, TV and phone services. Providers are able to cater to a variety of needs, e.g. C3 can support larger enterprises which may require more complex solutions such as MPLS and SD-WAN (source). Providers occasionally offer promotions such as package deals or free installation, so it is recommended that customers shop around to ensure they are getting the best value for money.
Installation costs and times vary between providers and on the type of service required. For example, Logic’s fibre installation typically takes one week, whereas Digicel’s LTE residential broadband requires no installation as there is no need for a fixed line.
The government has also recently implemented 10 public Wi-Fi hotspots across Grand Cayman (source) in order to provide some economic relief to the wider community from the social impact of COVID-19.
What is the average cost for these services?
Unfortunately, Cayman’s telecommunication services cannot benefit from economies of scale in the same way as other larger countries such as the United States or United Kingdom, and so the cost of broadband and mobile services is more expensive than in larger markets. However, the internet speeds on offer are highly competitive and service providers sometimes offer a variety of discounted packages which can reduce the overall cost.
Digicel’s broadband offerings range from CI$75 to $105 for a 30-day plan, as of August 2020. They offer daily, weekly or monthly plans to suit a variety of needs and there are no setup fees or installation requirements with their Plug N’Play modem (source).
FLOW’s broadband packages range from $82.99 to $250 per month based on speed, as of August 2020. On sign-up for their broadband services, FLOW offers free installation as well as no contract options (source).
Logic’s fibre and wireless internet packages range from $40 to $125 per month for wireless internet services, and $65-255 a month for fibre internet, as of August 2020 (source). Logic’s standard costs for a fibre-to-home installation costs $199; however, fibre is not yet available in every neighbourhood. For customers in areas where fibre is not yet available, Logic also offers ‘plug and play’ wireless internet which doesn’t require any complex installation and so can be used the same day as collection.
C3’s main fibre internet packages and prices ranged from $89 to $299 per month, as of August 2020 (source).
How strong is the service network in Cayman?
Cayman is served by two subsea fibre cables, connecting the islands to Florida and Jamaica, which allows Cayman to benefit from international infrastructure. In addition, fibre installation continues across Grand Cayman and as such the network is constantly expanding to more districts and neighbourhoods.
This infrastructure was further strengthened and reliability improved in 2016, as legal amendments gave regulators the ability to fine telecommunication providers up to $50,000 for failing to provide their advertised internet speeds (source).
Bandwidths vary from 10Mbps up to 500Mbps in districts served by fibre. Fibre is currently available along Seven Mile Beach and most neighbourhoods in West Bay, George Town, South Sound, Prospect and Savannah.
Broadband tests in the capital, George Town, showed that the average download speeds were just over 50Mbps, with Logic ranked the fastest internet provider in that district (source).
How does Cayman’s internet compare to elsewhere in the Caribbean and other offshore jurisdictions?
Cayman offers the fastest internet speeds in the Caribbean with average speeds of 16.12Mbps across all three islands – not far off the UK average of 22.37Mbps. Other offshore financial jurisdictions, such as Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands, lag behind with average speeds of 13.55Mbps and 7.75Mbps respectively. Other Caribbean nations trail behind Cayman, with average speeds of 9.08Mbps in Jamaica and 11.13Mbps in the Bahamas (source). Cayman’s average internet speed of 16.12Mbps – with available bandwidths up to 500Mbps – exceeds the Caribbean’s average and will only continue to improve in response to consumer and business demand.
Florence Allan is a Dart Scholar and a returning intern with Dart’s business development team. She has joined various teams in Dart each summer since 2017, and before this she was a student at Cayman Prep & High School, spending her free time training for the Olympics, where she represented the Cayman Islands in sailing. While born in Scotland, Florence moved to Cayman at just six weeks old; her Scottish heritage and Caymanian upbringing offered her a truly multicultural childhood. For the past three years, Florence has been studying for her undergraduate degree in International Business Management at the University of Bristol, and she will be graduating by the end of summer 2020. Returning home for holidays is something Florence always looks forward to, as she misses her dog Archie when she is away and loves returning home to coach sailing to Cayman’s youth.