Some homes need to increase internet speeds for virtual learning, Lloyd says

Amid complaints that poor internet service is impacting virtual schooling, Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd said yesterday that the problem is not an issue with the capability of service providers, but is instead due to people opting for insufficient internet service packages.

“[We] have received at the Ministry of Education many complaints by even some private institutions and homeowners about the sufficiency, the adequacy, of internet capability, which we as a ministry have taken up with the internet service providers well known to us only to discover, Mr. Speaker, that those institutions and/or homes with their private service may not have the capacity to accommodate the new reality in which they [live],” Lloyd said in the House of Assembly.

“[It] has nothing to do with the capability of the service providers, but the service that is being contracted within a home.

“For instance, if ordinarily, [you] are only getting five [megabytes] into your home because that was adequate for the service that was necessary then, and now your child is on a virtual platform in which there is live streaming for four, five, six, seven hours per day, then that five [megabytes] would be insufficient. It has nothing to do with the internet service provider, but rather the quantity of service that you have contracted.

“So, what we have encouraged persons to do is contact their service providers and have them do an assessment of the service that they have and see if, in the new reality, it is adequate to meet their demand.”

Lloyd was responding to a comment from Exumas and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper, who was critical of a lack of access to sufficiently fast internet throughout The Bahamas, especially for students who are doing virtual schooling given the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cooper said that he was not convinced that Lloyd’s explanation is accurate for the entire Bahamas. 

“I would wish to share the member’s optimism,” he said.

“But I would wish to caution the member to perhaps, in some pockets of the country, perhaps some pockets of New Providence, that we temper the optimism because I have studied the issue and I am satisfied that there are some concerns in some areas.

“I, by no means, seek to disparage any provider. I am simply saying that the issue exists in 2020 and we must work together to resolve the issue.”

The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and Cable Bahamas are the two main internet service providers in the country. BTC’s internet packages range from $33.99 per month, excluding value-added tax (VAT), to $232.99 per month, depending on the maximum download speed.

Cable Bahamas’ packages range from roughly $49.50 per month, VAT-exclusive, to $124.75 per month.

Both companies allow internet services to be bundled with phone and television services. Bundled packages slightly decrease the amount paid for the same internet service. 

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