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.
The pandemic may be over, but the remote work legacy that exploded from it ain’t going anywhere. In Central America, Costa Rica and Panama both passed remote work visa laws last year (although Costa Rica’s still isn’t quite oven-ready), and we can expect to see more of the same around the region going forward. Not only that, as regular vacation travel rises back to pre-pandemic rates, people want to know if they can do some work or stay in contact while on vacation.
Whether you’re traveling for a short time or you’re a potential digital nomads/remote worker, internet speed is a critical issue. Slow/unstable internet is a potential dealbreaker for many people. Folks need to have some semblance of what to expect in Central America. And that’s where we come in.
I went to Ookla, the internet speed test guys, to check their latest global index 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’s performance compared to the rest of the world right now. The latest info from Oola is from April – they used to update each month, but we’ll work with April instead. You’ll still get an idea.
The latest Global Index for April is here. In mobile, Kuwait continues to climb and is now in 6th place. Finland jumped 4 spots to land in 15th. These are the highest rankings for both countries in the past year. Where does your country rank? https://t.co/aNDy5uG3q3 pic.twitter.com/M9BRRB3G8s
— Speedtest by Ookla (@Speedtest) May 16, 2022
First, it’s important to say that compared to the rest of the world, Central America performs rather poorly.
The highest ranking country in Central America for fixed broadband speed is Panama, and that’s still at number 28 in the world (down two spots from 26th place in December). For mobile speeds, El Salvador ranks highest in the region, at 87th in the world (again, down from 81st in December).
This is a far cry from nations like the UAE, Qatar, and Norway (top three fastest mobile speeds) and Singapore, Chile (wow!), 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 in April, with a download speed of 94.76 mbps (upload speed of 14.18 mbps). This is slower than last December.
What is surprising is that Belize ranks well in the region for its fixed broadband upload speed. At 22.01 mbps, it’s by far the best in the region. According to Ookla, Belize’s internet has come on leaps and bounds, beginning to catch up with the likes of Costa Rica. Belize, in fact, has seen the biggest speed increase in the region since December.
For mobile internet, El Salvador does best in Central America. If you’re online on your phone in Central America, you’re better off being in El Salvador. Honduras comes second in mobile speed in the region.
The worst countries in the region for mobile speed are Panama and Guatemala (although, in fairness, Ookla has no figures for Belize). For fixed broadband speed, it’s Guatemala and El Salvador who come off as the the slowest.
Here’s how it plays out country-by-country for April 2022:
Mobile internet speed fastest to slowest:
- El Salvador (87th in world)
- Honduras (90th in world)
- Costa Rica (103rd in world)
- Nicaragua (105th in world)
- Panama (108th in world)
- Guatemala (112th in world)
*No figures available for Belize.
Fixed broadband speed fastest to slowest:
- Panama (28th in world)
- Costa Rica (65th in world)
- Belize (86th in world)
- Nicaragua (93rd in world)
- Honduras (106th in world)
- Guatemala (107th in world)
- El Salvador (110th in the world)
We’ll keep updating this article to track internet speeds in Central America.
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.