Internet Access Options in Trinidad and Tobago

Updated : August 10th, 2007


Introduction

Here's a summary of the various internet connectivity options offered by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other companies in Trinidad and Tobago.

Dial-up access via a modem

There are several ISPs offering dialup access in Trinidad and Tobago :

  • TSTT
  • Opus Networx - as of 2006, Opus Networx does not offer dialup access services, but provides various services (email hosting, domain name registration, etc)
  • WOWnet
  • Rave (discontinued dialup access since 2007)
  • Efreenet (http://www.efreenet.net) (closed early in 2003)

Dialup access is the most common method of internet access in Trinidad and Tobago. Requires the purchase of a modem (many computers sold today include such hardware) which calls an ISP over a telephone line.

Depending on your internet usage, you may want to have phone lines dedicated for internet use. The only company in Trinidad and Tobago which provides phone lines is TSTT.

In Trinidad and Tobago, local access charges for telephone calls within your area is 23 cents TT regardless of duration of the call. For telephone calls to a phone outside your area, a per minute charge is applied. See TSTT local rates page for these rates.

As a result, many ISPs have Points of Presence (POP) so that your telephone call will cost 23 cents TT. Many ISPs also offer browser-based access to email and other miscellaneous services such as web hosting, additional email addresses, etc.

To get faster internet access, you can get two or three phone lines and get corresponding 56K modems (and accounts with an ISP) and bond the dialup modems into one internet connection. This may be suitable for those areas in Trinidad and Tobago where wireless, ADSL or Cable is not available.

In August 2007, TSTT has announced a Single National Rate of 23 cents TT per minute to/from fixed lines excluding independent ISP phone numbers to begin September 2007. The Telecom Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) has objected to this.

More details about Single National Rate :

Dial up accelerators

Wownet and the Gillette Group of ISPs offer web accelerators which require software to be installed on the client PC (usually for Windows only). Such software are web proxys and primariliy compress data sent between the ISP and the client PC, thus reducing web site access times.

TSTT 619-EASY service

In early 2004, TSTT introduced 619-EASY, which allows anyone with a PC with a modem to call and access the Internet for 75 TT cents a minute (the cost is added to the phone bill of the line used) without paying a regular internet access bill at an ISP.

See TSTT's page on 619-EASY for details

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CDMA access

In 2006, TSTT introduced their EV-DO mobile wireless broadband internet service which uses CDMA2000 1xEV-DO technology.

Users using an EV-DO device (PC Card, USB modem or Ethernet gateway) from TSTT connected to their Windows or Mac laptop/PC will have an always-on with unlimited downloads. Typical download speed is around 60Kbytes (480kbits/s). For more details :

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GPRS access via a GPRS enabled cell phone or PDA

TSTT (currently the sole cellular phone provider in Trinidad and Tobago) in 2004 launched "Mzone" which allows Internet access via GPRS (general packet radio service). Users will have an always-on connection and will be able to use their GPRS-enabled GSM cell phone or GPRS-enabled device (e.g. a PDA) to:

  • access their email
  • browse the WWW.
  • transfer files.
  • use instant messaging.

Typical access speeds are between 30kbps and 40kbps although many factors can reduce the data access rate (such as signal strength). Many GSM handsets capable of GPRS have USB connectivity, allowing for the capability of allowing a PC to use such a GSM phone to access the internet. For more details about Mzone service, see :

Leased Line

You can get private dedicated leased lines from TSTT but the pricing puts it out of reach for most individuals. You can get pricing here : http://www.tstt.co.tt/personal/internet/dedicated.cfm

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Satellite

UPDATE : Since mid-2005, both Starworx and DirecPC has stopped offering satellite access. As of 2006, there are no known satellite internet providers.

From around 2000-2005, there were two commercial options for satellite access :

These were asymmetrical (One-way) systems. You needed a regular dialup account with an ISP where your uploads (email, http URL requests) goes through the modem but your downloads (usually http and ftp ONLY) came through the satellite dish.

Typical download speeds quoted were around 400kb/second (50kB/s). Poor weather conditions (clouds, rain) usually resulted in reduced service. Had a large lag time and was not suited to online gaming or conferencing.

Two way satellite access is difficult to obtain due to legal barriers (one must obtain a VSAT license).

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Wireless

There are several providers which provide internet access via wireless :

This requires an antenna to be installed at your premises to point to the ISP's transmitter. The antenna is connected to a "wireless modem" which has USB and/or Ethernet connectivity. Internet access is two way and several speeds (typically in increments of 128kbits/s) are available.

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ADSL

TSTT has introduced Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) internet service in late 2002. Asymmetric means that data downloads from the Internet is faster than uploads to the Internet.

To get ADSL service, you must have a telephone line connected to an ADSL enabled TSTT exchange. The telephone line must also be of sufficient quality and be within a certain distance from the ADSL enabled telephone exchange.

You also need a ADSL modem or router for your computer. The ADSL modem typically connects to your computer via a USB port and would require specific driver support for your operating system. A ADSL router connects to your computer via 10baseT Ethernet interface. The ADSL modem or router "must support the Point-to-Point Protocol over ATM, also known as PPPoA or RFC 2364 standard. Modems using the Bridging method or PPPoE (PPP over Ethernet) method will not work". These modems or routers (as of Dec 2003) are being bundled with the various TSTT ADSL packages.

The TTCS has a detailed page about ADSL at http://www.ttcsweb.org/articles/adsl/

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Cable Access

Until 2006, the cable company in Trinidad and Tobago, CCTT, introduced Fiberline, which allows you to access the internet via cable. A cable "modem" is provided as part of the monthly rental and can use USB or Ethernet connectivity.

Internet access is two way and three internet packages are available :

  • 64kbits/s down, 64kbits/s up
  • 128kbits/s down, 64kbits/s up
  • 256kbits/s down, 128kbits/s up

All three packages offer a static IP address. Ping times to internet hosts are around 550ms which makes it unsuitable for gaming. However ping times between two cable modems on the cable network is around 10ms.

Currently, cable internet access is available in Port of Spain, Diego Martin, Westmoorings and Chaguaramas.

See Fiberline's website at http://www.fiberline.tt for more details.

In 2006, CCTT was shutdown and a new company which acquired its assets, Columbus Communications Trinidad Ltd (CCTL) and has continued its internet access package as CCTT did. Future plans of CCTL includes the launch of Flow which will provide customers with digital cable TV, internet and telephone services.

In late 2006, Flow's website was launched at http://www.flowtrinidad.com/

In August 2007, Flow's broadband offerings was announced and Flow is now offering these broadband packages to those areas converted to digital cable service. More details about Flow broadband packages :

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Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g) hotspots

As of February 2005, the use of 802.11a/b/g or "Wi-Fi" equipment is not licensed for general use in Trinidad and Tobago.

In early May 2004, the Ministry of Public Administration & Information released a proposed policy "to exempt licensing of systems operating in the 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz Industrial, Scientific & Medical (ISM) Bands for the provision of affordable wireless connectivity and Broadband Internet Access" but this policy has not been adopted by the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago.

Read more about this proposed policy on the Computer and Telecom related laws in Trinidad and Tobago article, including the TTCS comments on this policy (PDF ; size 131K)

However, 802.11b and 802.11g equipment (and to a much lesser extent 802.11a) such as routers, PC Card (PCMCIA) adapters and PCI adapters can be purchased at local computer stores and many companies and home users have deployed Wi-Fi networks.

In 2004, Carib-link/Open Telecom has launched two Wi-Fi hotspots in Trinidad at MovieTowne Cineplex and Piarco International Airport. Both Wi-Fi hotspots are free for now, but eventually users would have to pay to access Wi-Fi at these hotspots. Read the Trinidad Guardian article : Open Telecom launches hotspot at Piarco Airport, dated Thursday 18th November 2004.

List of known Wi-Fi hotspots in Trinidad and Tobago

The following is a list of venues such as restaurants and hotels (in no particular order) where internet access via Wi-Fi is known to be available to patrons and visitors to these estabishments. Details on how to configure your laptop to connect to these Wi-Fi networks should be obtained from the restaurant/hotel. Some restaurants/hotels may charge a fee for WiFi internet access.

This list is now on our wiki at TTCS Wiki page of Wi-Fi hotspots in TnT. If you know of any public wi-fi hotspots, please add it to the wiki!

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Cybercafes

There are many cybercafes in Trinidad and Tobago which offer internet access. Typical rates range from $5 to $10TT up to 1 hour usage.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much internet bandwidth is available in Trinidad and Tobago?
TSTT issued a press release in mid-2005 stating that it has increased its bandwidth capacity from 180Mbits/s to 335Mbits/s. Other independent ISPs which use satellite access have not disclosed how much bandwidth capacity they have. Flow is landing its own fiber optic cable in Trinidad in mid 2007. See BitDepth column : Bringing broadband into Flow for more details of this.
How much of the population in Trinidad and Tobago are internet users?
According to the National Information and Communication Technology (NICT) Benchmarking Study – Trinidad versus Selected Comparator Countries (PDF ; 858K), roughly 9% of the population (T&T population is 1.3 million) or around 120,000 persons are considered "regular internet users". The Telecom Authority of Trinidad and Tobago has released a domestic market analysis of the telecom sector for the period January to March 2006 (PDF ; 178K).

Contact the creator of this page

Any questions, comments, additional information about this page are welcome. Please contact us at: admin[ at ]ttcsweb.org