The success of
St. Kitts and Nevis in the uptake of fixed broadband serves as an example for other
developing countries and small island developing states. Some of this success can
be attributed to geography: the small land area and population of the islands contributed
to faster rollout of infrastructure, wider reach for marketing, and maximum impact
of ICT policy initiatives. In addition broadband is more affordable than other countries
in the Caribbean due to high per capita income coupled with lower broadband prices.
and income alone do not explain the broadband success of St. Kitts and Nevis. This
chapter reviews various supportive factors stimulating broadband growth in the country.
It also identifies bottlenecks impeding the realization of a sustainable broadband
Unlike other islands,
more than one service provider existed in the market prior to full telecommunications
liberalization giving the country a head start over other Caribbean countries. After
liberalization in 2001, new entrants in the broadband market provided yet additional
alternatives to the incumbent.
As a member of
the regional regulatory agency, ECTEL, St. Kitts and Nevis has benefitted from mutual
efforts for reform of the telecommunications sector. Examples include development
of harmonized policies which ushered in liberalization of the sector in 2002, joint
agreements with the incumbent service provider Cable & Wireless which ended its
exclusivity in the market and negotiations with foreign investors which has led
to the introduction of a second submarine cable system.
At 98%, St. Kitts
and Nevis has one of the highest literacy rates in the region. Universal secondary
education has contributed to this achievement. The availability of computers at
all primary and secondary schools and initiatives for teaching adults how to use
ICTs have boosted digital literacy, raising awareness and driving broadband demand.
The large number
of Kittitians and Nevisians abroad contributes to demand for international communications.
This has stimulated usage of broadband services such as VoIP, instant messaging
and social networking.
Even prior to
the advent of high speed Internet, citizens had access to other ICTs to the extent
that the creation of a Universal Service Fund more than a decade later served to
enhance existing informal universal access policies already in place. This included
ongoing development of community centers outfitted with computer labs to provide
access and training to rural communities and equipping every primary and secondary
school with computers.
of St. Kitts and Nevis promoted and secured funding for initiatives such as the
construction of community access centers and installation of computer labs within
schools. The goal of the recently launched I-literacy is to facilitate access
to laptops by students within the school and home environment; it is anticipated
that the presence of the technology within the home will promote awareness by other
members of the household. Exemption of customs duties on computer equipment has
also been a boost to the sector. The Government National ICT Centre houses a small
business incubator providing facilities such as access to computers and broadband
for small start-up enterprises.
Government as leader
The Prime Minister
of St. Kitts and Nevis has continuously emphasized the role of the Internet in supporting
the economic development goals of the country. The government has promoted demand
for services both by residents and the Diaspora through a range of multimedia content
available for download from the government’s site, as well as availability of content
on social networks such as Facebook and YouTube. The government has also invested
in ICT training for its employees.
the government and private sectors have gone a long way in developing computer literacy
levels among the general population and in ensuring that persons even from a very
young age had access to the Internet. Nearly every government-led ICT initiative
has received support from the private sector. For example, service providers have
ensured every school and public community center receive free Internet access. In
training initiatives the private sector has provided equipment at little or no cost
While St. Kitts
and Nevis has been successful in boosting fixed broadband penetration, this accomplishment
is riddled by contradictions. The country has the highest fixed broadband penetration
in Latin America and the Caribbean but has yet to launch mobile broadband. St. Kitts
and Nevis has the highest Facebook penetration in the Eastern Caribbean but the
UN ranks its online e-government level as the second lowest in that region. These
contradictions serve as impediments to effective broadband growth. The following
challenges need to be overcome to ensure a sustainable broadband ecosystem.
are a concern.
Competition among service providers has reduced the cost of broadband. However,
they are more than one and half times greater on a purchasing power basis than broadband
prices in the OECD.
impacts network investment affecting service quality and the competitive environment.
Government ownership of The Cable and the ongoing dispute over Caribbean Cable Communications
are but two examples.
Quality of service requirements for mass-market broadband has not been addressed. Greater confidence in the
reliability of the network would enhance the types of services offered by businesses.
In the case of Nevis, the use of radio links for backbone connectivity impacts service
agency (NTRC) suffers from a lack of resources, impeding its capability. For
example it lacks a website and is unable to fulfill its mandate of administering
the .KN domain. Perceived weaknesses of the agency may serve as a deterrent to investors.
and regulatory framework needs continuous review as the environment changes.
Legislation currently lags market developments. Laws covering data protection, privacy
and electronic transactions are yet to be implemented. This is impeding the development
of e-commerce and e-government applications.
of national policy by
a central agency responsible for its execution is necessary for the government to
achieve its long-term broadband strategies. Strengthening oversight is necessary
in order to bring about change, particularly for monitoring quality of service,
and ensuring that costs for Internet access are reasonable. A balance between sector
regulation and stimulating broadband development is crucial.
needed in order to facilitate greater demand for new and advanced services; this
includes facilitating support for sectors that are dependent on broadband such as
“software-as-a-service” companies. The enhancement of public private partnerships
to involve higher education or tertiary institutions may encourage wider research
and development activities. Implementation of education policies that serve to promote
the use of the Internet as a tool for educational delivery and for fostering innovation
can also support more advanced activities.
domain name (.KN) is important in branding St. Kitts and Nevis. The resource
is currently under utilized as a marketing tool that would stimulate additional
demand for new and advanced services at the local level.
of an Internet Exchange point (IXP) would facilitate better optimization
of international bandwidth usage since most local Internet traffic is routed to
North America. Discussions at the national level concerning the establishment of
a domestic IXP have so far not been fruitful.
has yet to be
deployed. One reason is that most of the island of St. Kitts is well served by fixed
line connections. However the availability of mobile broadband can serve to expand
inter-modal competition, provide more convenience for consumers and increase the
types of services offered by local businesses.
the supporting infrastructure,
particularly electricity has limited exploitation of the network for advanced services
such as the provision of hosting facilities.