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Island’s broadband among world’s priciest

Bermuda is the 17th most expensive place in the world for broadband internet service, according to a survey of 206 countries.

This is based on the average cost of a fixed-line broadband package, at $129.98, as measured by UK-based Cable.co.uk.

Countries are ranked by the cheapness of such a package, meaning Bermuda places 190th.

On the list, the island fares better than Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Turks and Caicos, which were 194th, 198th and 203rd respectively.

However, it trails Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Barbados, Guernsey, and Jersey. Of those, the most expensive is Jersey with an average package costing $80.14.

Breaking down the average cost of a fixed-line broadband megabit, per month, shows Bermuda at $9.95, which is more expensive than all the previously mentioned jurisdictions; the next costliest is Cayman at $3.53.

The broadband pricing list has been published annually for the past three years. Bermuda improved from 180th in 2017, to 175th in 2018, when the rankings featured 195 jurisdictions.

When asked for its reaction to the island's low position on the list, the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda, which oversees the electronic communications sector, said historical pricing suggests that Bermuda's retail prices for broadband has been higher than in comparable countries.

In addition, it said: “Consideration should also be given to what is being measured in the Cable.co.uk comparison, ie, whether the definition of ‘broadband' is the same for each country; is the broadband offered as a stand-alone item or is it bundled with other options?”

According to Cable.co.uk, its methodology included researchers selecting one package at each available speed from established providers in the countries included in the rankings, and where multiple packages have identical bandwidth, then selecting the cheapest option. Only consumer broadband packages were included. In Bermuda, 22 broadband packages were measured.

Asked by The Royal Gazette if it was concerned about the difference in pricing between Bermuda and some comparable jurisdictions, and if there was anything it was able to do to improve this, the RA said it had analysed retail broadband pricing in 2018.

“As a result of the market review, the RA intends to monitor the cost efficiency of SMP [significant market power] broadband operators more closely. It also intends to conduct international benchmarking of prices in order to indirectly monitor the levels of operational efficiency of the SMP operators,” it said.

The authority said it will accomplish this by comparing the prices charged by operators in countries with characteristics similar to Bermuda, adjusted for declining subscriber-base, economic productivity and standards of living between countries (such as purchasing power parity) to see whether the prices charged by the SMP operators in Bermuda are in line with these comparators.

It added: “The RA is actively seeking the best outcomes that balance the needs of the consumers, sectoral providers and the broader economy.” It also said the final report on its Market Review is expected to be released in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2020-21.

London-based Cable.co.uk operates to help customers compare broadband services and to offer advice. In a previous report it analysed more than 250 million broadband speed tests to rank 207 countries by the average speed they offer.

In that list, Bermuda improved from 67th to 55th between 2018 and 2019, with a mean download speed of 13.55Mbps. In comparison, Jersey was fourth with 67.46, Gibraltar's speed was 20.27, Guernsey's was 18.26, and Cayman's was 16.12.

Among those listed lower than Bermuda were Isle of Man with 11.04, Turks and Caicos with 8.78, and BVI with 7.75.

The RA said several developments in Bermuda's electronic communications sector have occurred over the past few years, “and that some of these developments have helped to improve consumer outcomes. For example, the roll-out of broadband network upgrades has led to faster internet connection speeds”.

The authority was asked if it believed higher costs and lower speeds for broadband could be detrimental to the island's development in the digital space.

The RA said it believes “cost-effective, secure and reliable electronic communications services are essential to economic development in the modern era”. In addition, it said a moratorium on new Integrated Communications Operating Licences has been lifted by the Minster of Home Affairs to increase the level of competition.

On January 27, the RA opened up a licensing period for new ICOLs.

“It is anticipated that the addition of new competition should serve to deliver better outcomes for Bermuda,” it said.

The Cable.co.uk report on global fixed-line broadband can be seen at https://tinyurl.com/wp6b96l

Cost table: in a global broadband pricing list of 206 countries, with the cheapest ranked highest, Bermuda places 190th based on the average cost of a fixed-line broadband package (Information from Cable.co.uk)

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Published February 03, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated February 03, 2020 at 12:05 am)

Island’s broadband among world’s priciest

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