Access to affordable broadband has become a priority for many countries, which is perceived as important for social and economic development. The interaction of individuals, communities, and organizations with broadband has contributed to the development and enhancement of social networks, access to and generation of new knowledge, and the creation of diverse innovative processes.
The study analyses the environment within the small island developing state that facilitated the uptake of broadband technologies and applications, to the extent that St. Kitts and Nevis has the highest fixed broadband subscription rate among all countries of the Latin America and Caribbean region, and even higher than some developed economies.
This achievement can be attributed in part to the small physical size of St. Kitts and Nevis that has enabled faster rollout of the physical infrastructure, facilitated more effective marketing, and promoted maximum impact for government-led ICT initiatives. Among the Caribbean islands however smallness is certainly not unique. The study therefore explores other factors that have contributed to high broadband penetration.
The phrase “strength in depth” is borrowed from the world of soccer, the most popular sport on the island. The phrase is used to underscore the point that the strength of the island’s achievement in the broadband sector, lies in its commitment to nurturing the foundational components of the broadband ecosystem. Promotion of basic education and digital literacy, building technology awareness, facilitating access to ICT, and encouragement of a competitive telecommunications environment are but a few examples of the country’s core strengths.
However, as in any ecosystem, sustainability and growth can be threatened by internal weaknesses. As of the date of this report, mobile broadband has yet to be launched and the lack of appropriate legislation is holding back the development of interactive e-commerce and e-government applications. Other challenges included the high cost of services, an unstable power supply and quality of service issues.
This case study is one of an initial series of seven that will contribute to the Broadband Strategies Toolkit, an online resource for policy-makers and regulators, especially in developing countries. The case studies are generously funded by the Korean Trust Fund (KTF) on Information and Communications for Development (IC4D). The KTF is a partnership between the government of the Republic of Korea and the World Bank Group whose purpose is to advance the ICT4D agenda to contribute to growth and reduce poverty in developing countries.