Three-quarters of households in the Caribbean Netherlands had internet access at home in 2013. Of the people who had used internet in the three months prior to the study, 86 percent went online (almost) daily. Internet use is highest among young people and people with a higher level of education. Most people used it for email, social media and telephony.
More internet users on Saba
In 2013, 75 percent of households in the Caribbean Netherlands had an internet connection. Seventy percent of the islands’ population aged 15 and over had used the internet in the three months prior to the survey of whom 86 percent daily or nearly daily. Young and higher educated people used the internet more than older people and those with lower education levels. Internet use was higher on Saba than on St Eustatius: the university institute (Saba University) on Saba means that relatively many young and higher educated people live there .
Press release RCN, October 1, 2014
If so many people use the internet, then there must be a real need for internet access.
In the European Netherlands the firm Ziggo (www.ziggo.nl) offers 30 Mbit/sec internet access + 20 analogue TV stations + 60 digital TV stations + 20 HD TV stations for the total price of $50/month.
On Saba we have a Government owned telecom company, Satel. Thanks to the new fiber optic cable that has been installed by the RCN, they now deliver 512kB/sec at a price of $55/month. However, one only gets the 512 kB at night when most people are asleep, else, sometimes, it is only a fraction of that speed.
When I compute the cost for 30 MB and assuming that the TV would be free of charge, then the equivalent cost on Saba is $3000 /month, i.e., 60 times the cost of high speed internet in Holland.
In the European Netherlands high speed internet access is a necessity today. The CBS figures indicate the same for Saba. Now my question is: why does our Government not do something about this?
I have talked to quite a lot of people about the problem of the Internet here on the island. What I found out is quite interesting.
We pay about $100/Mb/month for Internet here. This is the highest price in the Caribbean and about twice the price of neighboring islands. It seem that when Satel bulk by bandwidth from SXM or ST kitts they are getting it for about $50/mb, or maybe a little less if they negotiate properly.
So why do we pay so much. It seems to be that the Bureau of Telecommunications and post (BT&P) have a lot to do with that. For the use of the microwave links to the island we, or rather Satel are charged for spectrum use. This charge basically adds on the other $50/ mb. So in effect it is an Internet tax. For this tax, which amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars BT&P Make sure there is no interference with the signal.
So what about the Fibre optic system. Well that raises a different problem. The “poison present” is a great idea. We should be able to route all communications through it and not pay the BT&P bill. However there would be the problem of the maintenance bill that goes with the fibre optic cable. This is also potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
So even if we were given free bandwidth from the other islands we would still be paying more that Europe ($50/ month) just to get it here.
Please check this information with the representatives from Satel or the government. It looks like there is nothing they can do about the situations as, as usual, it is out of thier hands.
The Ziggo “standard” internet package does not come with free TV. As a matter of fact, you need to subscribe to at least a basic TV subscription before you can subscribe to internet, as Ziggo is a cable company and TV is their “basic signal”. Therefore you are almost always cheaper off with DSL. Not to mention that the connection is usually better, too.
It is known that on the islands in the Caribbean, the internet connection can be pretty bad. This is largely due to the fact that the islands are small, have few inhabitants and surrounded by coral rifs which are protected. This makes it very expensive to create a decent fiber network to the nearest international backbone. However, what you could try is to subscribe to internet provided via satellite. This is costly, but if you manage to share the costs with your neighbours, this could perhaps be an option.