Wi-Fi ranking a plus for Barbados – By Tony Best

Wi-Fi ranking a plus for Barbados

By TONY BEST, – NationNews Barbados –  10 January 2016

As she was getting ready to leave New York for Barbados, a teenager had an urgent, last minute, question for a relative in the country. it was: “Do you have Wi-Fi?”. The answer: “Yes, of course, we do have Wi-Fi.”

What both the youth and her elderly aunt in Barbados probably didn’t know at the time was that the island was ranked recently by experts as one of the top 20 countries in the world providing public Wi-Fi services. According to Rotten Wi-Fi, a British-based blog which gathers information on Wi-Fi networks in about 184 countries and then ranks them based on speed and the quality of hot spots, Barbados is among the world leaders in public Wi-Fi access. 

Just the other day, Rotten Wi-Fi released the results of its 2015 global survey and Barbados was ranked 11th, which placed it above such wealthy countries as Canada, Finland and Sweden but below Lithuania, Estonia, Singapore, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Belgium and Romania. Barbados was given a higher rating than Latvia, Malta, Hungary, Slovenia, Bulgaria, the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal and Croatia.

“It has become a tradition to announce the top countries with the best public Wi-Fi,” said Arturas Jenkus, Rotten Wi-Fi founder, a public Wi-Fi and 3G/4G watchdog. “We are thankful for the users of our apps as they keep testing public Wi-Fi and sharing it with others. We believe this will help to improve Wi-Fi services worldwide.”

William Watson, a high-tech guru with extensive computer knowledge gathered over more than 30 years, told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that the ranking by Rotten Wi-Fi shouldn’t be taken lightly because of the economic importance of Wi-Fi accessibility to executives and large corporations on the lookout for convenient and efficient places in which to invest or otherwise do business.

“It is very important for a small developing country interested in expanding its economy to have ready and efficient public access to Wi-Fi,” said Watson, a Barbadian who knows the ins and outs of almost every aspect of the high-tech industry. “Such a high ranking is tremendous for Barbados. It can provide significant benefits to the country, especially to the business community.”

Charlie Skeete, a former Barbados ambassador to Washington and a retired senior economic adviser at the Inter-American Development Bank, agreed. “Wi-Fi access is crucial if you want to do business in today’s world,” Skeete, a former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance, said. “Without internet access, a country wouldn’t be going anywhere.”

“In short, without such access you simply wouldn’t succeed in expanding your economy. It says a lot about Barbados’ investment in Wi-Fi networks that it would be given such a high rating. There is no getting away from it, Wi-Fi is an effective tool. Actually, it is considered a basic utility, like the telephone and electricity. I would say that the ranking is significant.”

Watson and Skeete were right on the money. Experts were quick to point out that Barbados had beaten some very wealthy countries to the Wi-Fi punch and among them was the US, which was largely responsible for the development and rapid expansion of the internet but had dropped out of the latest top 20 list.

As for the list itself, it showed that most of the countries on it were in Eastern Europe where vast sums of money have been invested in the networks. Barbados and Canada were the only Western Hemisphere nations that made the high-tech cut. In terms of average download speed, Lithuania, with an average download speed of 16.1 megabitts per second (Mbps); Estonia (14.8 Mbps) and Singapore (13.1 (Mbps) out-performed all other countries.

Barbados’ 11.1 Mbps did much better than Canada with 9.1 while the UK, in sixth place had a speed of 11.7. Singapore was the lone Asian country to be included among the leaders. South Korea, China and Japan weren’t included among the world’s best performers and that happened despite the fact that other studies gave them a nod for their super fast internet speeds, observed Lisa Eadicicco of businessinsider.com.

Some Canadians see their country’s 20th spot in the rankings as both good and bad news. “The good news is that Canada is one of only two countries in the Western Hemisphere to make the list of the world’s top 20 countries for public Wi-Fi,” wrote Kelly McParland in the National Post, Canada’s leading business daily newspaper. “The bad news is that we came 20th, after such giants as Slovenia, alta, Estonia, Romania and Barbados, the other Western Hemisphere country to make the list.”

Hot spots have recorded explosive growth around the world in recent years largely because cafés, bars, restaurants, hotels, airports, and bookstores offer Wi-Fi access.

Business executives consider it useful when travelling because as one publication noted: “They do not have to pay for international mobile data”. “They can also be found in parks, city- squares, downtown areas, just name it,” the publication stated. “Open outdoor Wi-Fi networks create unique conditions for internet addicted 21st century travellers that want to update their social networks, share photos, stream videos, check emails and simply get directions right away.”

Skeete said business executives use internet access, among other factors, to measure a country’s appeal when making key investment decisions. “Given the rankings, that’s good news for a small country like Barbados,” said the economist.

Source: http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/76266/headlines-wi-ranking-plus-barbados#sthash.SXdZ8mpR.dpuf

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