BVI News

Minister’s guest: When is the next boat to USVI?

Minister responsible for telecommunications Mark Vanterpool yesterday made reference to internet speeds in other Caribbean countries while he detailed an embarrassing situation in which slow internet speed almost resulted in his guest leaving the territory.

“A guest I had at one of my villas, who brought his parents for a week’s holiday, was in the business of day trading, where you have to be very much in touch with the Stock Market in the US and all over the world, trading instantly as you get the information.”

“The next morning when he realized that he couldn’t get the download speeds to make a trade, he asked me ‘what time is the next boat to St Thomas [in the US Virgin Islands]?’… By afternoon, we got the speed up temporarily to about 2 or 3 and that worked, but he was not happy. This is the world today,” Vanterpool explained.

He further stated that, based on his experience, the broadband speed in the British Virgin Islands is not the 48 megabytes some persons claim it is.

“I can say that recently when I download movies it is no longer buffering, but it’s still slow. It’s certainly not 48 and nowhere near that, from what I see. I was sitting next to one of my colleagues last week and he showed me the download speed he was getting, and it was below 5 megs,” the minister further said during an event hosted yesterday by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission.

Vanterpool added that, as a result of his experiences, he recently was prompted to find out the download speeds in other Caribbean countries.

“Looking at the Internet comparisons I received this morning (Wednesday), speeds throughout the Caribbean ranged from Anguilla – 48 megs, Aruba – 24, Bahamas – 70, Belize – 16, BVI – 48, Cayman Islands – 300, Curacao – 100, Dominica – 50, Grenada – 100, Guyana – 10, Jamaica – 200, St Kitts – 48, St Lucia – 100, St Vincent – 100, Trinidad and Tobago – 240, and Turks and Caicos – 50. Barbados gets up to 1G, and most of those are at $1 per meg. Hopefully, we are in that same category,” Vanterpool further told the audience, which included representatives of telecoms companies operating in the local market.

He stated that he deliberately found out the download speeds elsewhere in the region because he wants to have an informed conversation about having ‘modern day broadband speeds’ available here.

“I deliberately went that route, because I want us to just stop the talk and let’s have a symposium with the users, not with the view to expose you [the providers], but with a view to getting some feedback from the customers. We just want to be able to enjoy the modern day broadband speeds available out there, at a reasonable rate,” Vanterpool said.

He encouraged the companies – Digicel, Flow and CCT – to continue to improve their service.

“We want to encourage our operators, who are doing a wonderful job compared to what we had before, to get better. I want to make this note also – and don’t misunderstand me, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission is set up under legislation to regulate and make sure that fair competition is there among the operators, and that they are adequately provided with spectrum and whatever else the Government can facilitate.”

Vanterpool continued: “In August of last year, we went through a phase of difficulties and controversy, and eventually we were able to settle on awarding LTE spectrum to the existing service providers – CCT, Digicel and Flow. This means that these operators now have enough spectrum, and have started to roll out high speed wireless Internet through the LTE or Long Term Evolution process. I would say I am patient, and I am sure we as consumers have a lot of patience. We do understand that, in any business or in any venture, there are difficulties, there are challenges and we appreciate that with the providers. I want to encourage them to keep working hard as they do.”

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