Fastest internet in Central America

Which Country has the Fastest Internet in Central America?

Which country has the fastest internet in Central America? If you’re planning to live in the region as a digital nomad or remote worker, it’s an all-important question. Let’s take a look and see.

There was a story yesterday in Costa Rica’a La Republica that surprised me. It was a story about how Tigo is the company offering the fastest residential internet in Costa Rica, based on the results of a survey by Ookla. You know Ookla, they’re the ones who offer the main free online speed test you probably use.

Anyway, as a Tigo client, I admit the results surprised me a little, although I have very few issues with Tigo myself. I guess I thought someone else would be faster.

But the survey results came as a result of over three million speedtests conducted in Costa Rica over the second half of 2020. With numbers like that, so who am I to contest them? So congats to Tigo.

Elsewhere in Central America, Tigo was also the fastest fixed internet provider in El Salvador. Cable Onda won in Panama, no other Central American countries were included in the survey.

According to the La Republica piece, Tigo Costa Rica worked hard last year to replace and expand the equipment that supports its networks. They needed to, as more people ended up working from home due to the pandemic. Seems like the investment paid off.

So the article got me thinking about general internet speed throughout Central America. Which country has the fastest internet?

For potential digital nomads and remote workers, it’s an important question. Slow/unstable internet is a potential dealbreaker for many people.

I went back to Ookla to see another survey, their monthly ranking of mobile and fixed broadband speeds from around the world. It’s been a while since I’ve done this and I wanted to see how Central America compared to the rest of the world in January.

First off, it’s important to say that compared to the rest of the world, Central America performs poorly.

The highest ranking country in Central America for fixed broadband speed is Panama, and that’s still at number 36 in the world. For mobile speeds, Guatemala ranks highest in the region, at 76th in the world.

A far cry from nations like the UAE, South Korea, and Qatar (top three fastest mobile speeds) and Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand (top three fastest fixed broadband speeds).

For now, unless you’re prepared to spend some money, your internet speeds in Central America will be slower than many places.

But it’s not all bad. Internet speed has improved dramatically over the years in Central America, across the whole region.

So let’s see how each country in Central America performs for both mobile and fixed broadband internet speed. We created a handy chart below:

 

The above chart is pretty cool (if we say so ourselves) because you can click on the tabs at the bottom to delete and re-add to the table, to get a better idea of things. Go ahead and play with it. Knock yourself out.

The most interesting (although not surprising) thing that jumps out is that Panama had by far the fastest fixed broadband speed in the region last month, with a download speed of 111.28 mbps. Panama’s upload speed was quite poor, though, at 17.78 mbps.
 
What is surprising is that Belize ranks well in the region for its fixed broadband upload speed. At 24.42 mbps, it’s by far the best in the region. According to Ookla, Belize’s internet has come on leaps and bounds. It’s not a million miles away from that of Costa Rica.
 
For mobile internet, Guatemala shines through in Central America. It had an upload speed of 28.22 mbps in January, and a download speed of 16.70 mbps, the highest in the region.
 
It’s safe to say that if you’re online on your phone in Central America, you’re better off being in Guatemala. Costa Rica comes second in mobile speed in the region.
 
The worst countries in the region for mobile speed are Panama and El Salvador, which surprises me, at least for Panama. For fixed broadbans speed, it’s Nicaragua and Honduras who come off as the the slowest.

Here’s how it plays out country-by-country for January 2021:

Mobile internet speed fastest to slowest:
  1. Guatemala (76th in world)
  2. Costa Rica (77th in world)
  3. Honduras (90th in world)
  4. Belize (95th in world)
  5. Nicaragua (107th in world)
  6. Panama (108th in world)
  7. El Salvador (111th in world)

Fixed broadband speed fastest to slowest:

  1. Panama (36th in world)
  2. Costa Rica (80th in world)
  3. Belize (90th in world)
  4. Guatemala (127th in world)
  5. El Salvador (128th in the world)
  6. Honduras (130th in world)
  7. Nicaragua (133rd in world)

We’ll keep updating this article to track internet speeds in Central America throughout the year. It’ll be interesting to check the progress of the different countries and see if we have any drastic changes.

Let us know what your internet speed is like in Central America. We’d love to compile complete record of this in as close to real time as we can.
 
James Dyde is the editor of www.centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.