REPORT #624 March 2003
Summarizing real life experiences and internet applicability in Belize

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

This is a QUEST for the Holy Grail of infra-structural performance for business quality performance on the internet out of Belize.

a) Business quality being defined as internet high speed outgoing of 1400 kbps, adjustable additional bandwidth as needed for a fee, a flat monthly fee of reasonable amount, 24 hour service.

b) Business as being defined; the capability to establish multiple entrepreneurial small business servers in Belize for web hosting, for legal jurisdictional reasons and for claims of sovereignty and ownership rights/control of web site content within the territorial borders of Belize.

1) What is available so far: seems what Corozalaneos have in the north on the Mexican border, who are using microwave radio bat antenna's to the multiplexed T1's in Chetumal at a real time 2.8 gbps. Unfortunately at the moment they do not have bandwidth yet to sell, but will probably come? Their speeds are reported around 120 kbps, with a potential of 2 gbps should the operators in Chetumal upgrade their bandwidth equipment.

2) INTELCO for schools and government is currently supplying satellite feed. Satellite is about a third level lower grade of service with download speeds of 400 kbps and upload speeds of very slow 40 - 60 kbps. Inadequate for a competitive business operation out of Belize and far below necessary speed and bandwidth requirements as defined by our Business requirements. Okay for e-mail and online slow research of websites.

3) A business operation of a minor sort, as being defined as "e-mail only" can be operated using a Satellite slow link, a third tier lower level service. Most tourist operations use this already. Faster on the downlink, but very slow on the uplink. There is also the problem of latency, for a web page this is 6 seconds for a single electronic query and 24 seconds for the usual web page query that might take 24 seconds to fill a web page response. This will satisfy limited e-mail and web based information searchs, but not any kind of independence and self sufficiency from Belize as a sovereign legal jurisdiction and business infra-structure practice. It does not meet our qualifying requirements of meeting DSL line speeds, or a T-1 link with no latency problems as found in satellite. The qualifier the same service as used for business in the USA mainland.

4) For e-mail only and research capability, the satellite can provide isolated rural service to remote locations. But at high cost and slow speeds and below infra-structural business requirements for competitive world competition.

5) Starband and Direcway ( through ) are providing installation and equipment but at atrocious costs, for a do-it-yourself comparison. Quoted so far, have been $5000 Bz, or $2500 USA for installation for direcway versus cheaper installations by individuals. ( prices not yet received ) Names quoted for Direcway comsat-com have been Mike Boggaert, 501 603 6079 at the higher price. Direcway cannot provide television with the internet service antenna, you have to have a separate antenna and monthly fee, with a dummy account in the USA for payment for satellite receiving of television ( 2 antennas ). Direcway is said to use SATMEX satellite and has FAPED, or exceed limits cancellation brownouts and you need extra software to monitor usage. Starband advertises on the internet $600 USA equipment, $70 US a month for residential and $900 USA for equipment and $130 USA a month for business with 3 connections. Speed is roughly 400 kbps downlink and 40 - 60 kbps uplink data streams. Good enough for a rural remote location to get e-mail and maybe research the web, but not send using your own server. The 24 hour online service though for a flat fee is desirable. Better than the cost structure currently offered by BTL. Starband is an Israeli owned company using US satellites and with a 50% black population in Belize and Israel being a practicing APARTHEID country, there might be some sort of future economic blockade locally of such business.

4) Corozalaneos can access Mexican T-1 for a $500 USA wireless relay cost bat omni- antenna and $50 US a month. But congestion and lack of bandwidth capability paid for choices currently not available in Chetumal. Probably will come with demand for services.

5) The Mexican T-1 is providing 2.8 gbps, but in reality is reported in Corozal as only being 120 kbps. The business requirement in Belize is 1400 kbps as defined as basic infra-structure requirements. This falls short of business web hosting servers locally in Belize. We have been advised by a technician that a Belize based server with 384 kbps outgoing is adequate. But so far, this speed is not available publicly in Belize. Though the politically protected Godfrey EPZ is rumored to have 5 ghz of speed.

6) Foreign based web hosting, is an option, but legal jurisdictions vary and a Belize based nich business has to be careful to retain control, if for instance, you wish to sell a lottery, host a gambling site, or sell herbal medicine. This cannot be done offshore from Belize! Witness that I had several hundred web sites built up over five years wiped out in seconds by a foreign hosting service. I did not have backups unfortunately. Five years research and data gone in the punch of a few keys by an unknown stranger in an offshore web hosting location. A financial loss of consideral proportions, from which I have never recovered. Such wipe outs can be political motivated as well as legal motivated in foreign locations. Or for any other reason? Loss of control over your own website and copyright are considerations also. Albeit a good enough reason to have your own server in Belize.

7) There is a possibility of utilizing foreign based web hosting, ( with backup ) if one put one of those signup agreements in front of the web page, having a customer AGREE TO CONDITIONS to access your web site. (To cover liability. ) This might cover legal liability issues but not cover political, or other agreements with your web hoster, by using some foreign owned web hosting service. You could still be wiped out by an unknown person buying out a web host, or just cleaning up things, or arbitrarily deciding your sites did not meet their agreement contract. The best thing for Belizeans is to be independent and self reliant in control of their own web hosting operations.

8) Fiber optic still seems the best for Belize, mostly to get SPEED, 24 hour service and BANDWIDTH. We do have a NAP (ARCO ) of fiberoptic in Belize City, which seems to be unused? For what financial, legal or political reasons are unknown? Apparently a holdover control of BTL from the days of installation when BTL held the monopoly?

9) Wireless seems to be effective, albeit at a slightly slower speed than our basic business requirement. A combination of fiber optic and wireless relay towers seem to offer the best choices in Belize. Technicians say 12 towers at an average cost of $10,000 Bz each would cover the nation. Towers cost anywhere from $500 to $10,000 depending on complexity and size. Antennas and repeaters are extra. Outgoing business SPEED need is defined as 1200 - 1400 kbps. The fiber optic and radio tower relay it is said offer 5 ghz of speed. Not yet publicly available due to politics.

8) Hooking through radio relay to the fiberoptic NAP in Belize seems the way to go for infra-structural development. I'm guessing, but it has been suggested the Godfrey EPZ Ladyville gambling web sites are operating at 5 ghz and probably using a fiberoptic line through Miami, from the fiber optic NAP ARCO link controlled by BTL? Not sure why this has not been done and resold to ISP entrepreneurs throughout Belize as a government sponsored economic small business incentive program? Alternatives are radio relay over the Guatemalan border or the Mexican border to access the fiberoptic and microwave relay over there, is another set of choices.

CONCLUSION: Belize has not yet the capability for business in world competition based on our requirements of SPEED (1200 - 1400 kbps ), BANDWIDTH increases as needed fee based, or 24 hour flat fee service. Though satellite is okay for e-mail at high fees but very low speeds, and flat fee 24 hour service, but not for more complicated businesses and economic development. Tourist businesses are in the meantime using slower third lower tier satellite services as a stop gap measure. Other new business venture ideas continue to be on hold, for about nine years now, awaiting government intervention, or economic development of the necessary internet infra-structure.

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