REPORT #521 September 2002

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

( And if you believe that, I would like to sell you the Hawksworth Bridge as a toll bridge, good investment,)


I think you have missed an important technological advance. There's a difference between wireless and cellular. We now have the technology to put a little box on everyone's roof that will carry voice, fax and internet, instead of running that thru a cable (either optical or copper) in the ground.

This modern "infrastructure" obviates the laying of local lines in villages. We can connect villages, with "towers" bearing infra-red lasers which have the same bandwidth as a cable, and then go to the local houses with wireless. And it's not cellular, which is actually just a glorified radio system, with all of the problems we have with a limited RF spectrum in the air. (The tower, in many cases, can be a sixty foot pole, properly guyed.)

BTL is counting on their existing system to give them an edge over this new technology, but wireless just doesn't cost as much as they're making it out to cost. In fact, however, BTL will be able to cut costs in order to compete simply because they do have the existing infrastructure bought and paid for. This competition will be GREAT for the Belizean communicator, and ultimately for the economy of Belize, which is being held back by high comm costs.

FYI, BTL charges by the minute on local calls. The local service I used to get as part of my local station charge is up to $95BZ! In other words, the station charge, for which I paid $7.50 to US West, covered my unlimited calls in the local area. (An area about as big as Belize.) That same service cost me $8BZ a year ago, and with the rate hike, it jumped to $20BZ. The charge, which is called "local access" NOW does not include any calls. So I'm currently paying $115BZ for something I got from USWEST for $7.50US. And that doesn't include any calls to other districts.

You can see a discussion of utilities and monopolies on my website at

My biggest fear is that the existing Telecom structure will allow BTL to deny service (i.e. access to local exchanges) to its competitors. That was prohibited by the FCC in the US, but there doesn't seem to be anything that would protect us from something like that here. IOW, if I wanted to call someone in PG, and I had an Interco hookup, and they had a BTL hookup, I couldn't talk to them.

You can imagine a system where everyone had to have three phones, or at least a means of switching between three different systems. (Presuming that we have at least two competitors to BTL after the deregulation.)

This is not a problem with i-net connection, and of course, that's my biggest problem. I paid $450BZ last month to BTL for internet access. And now, with a cyber cafe, I'm looking at much bigger bills. Of course, I'm looking hard at a broad band alternative.

From the Belize Development Trust
Our reading on Belizean telecommunications, particularly the internet service is that the government's role is to simply provide regular licenses just like drivers licenses after Janauary, to anyone, anywhere in Belize who wishes to turn entrepreneur. Let competition decide who survives to the benefit of the Belizean customer. The second role of government in Belmopan is to make sure that there are rules and agreements to enable competing services to use the basic infra-structure at fair regulated prices, like in Florida. Particularly to have systems that can interact with each other.

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