My new internet is not so bad, if you like to contain your usage to very late nights and very early mornings. Yesterday, my neighbors below moved back to the States and with them went my internet access (as well as three very good friendships.) Uh oh. For someone who spends QUITE a bit of time online, this could be a major problem. Time to head into town to find out what my options are.
Internet access in Belize is PRICEY and incredibly slow (note to all people that send me video links, I just can't watch them). Check out "A King's Life" super-interesting blog post: Belize: The Most Expensive Internet In the World. Typically, your internet can be installed by BTL (our phone company) or Coral Cable. If you want the higher speed/VERY EXPENSIVE "good stuff" like 2MB connection, it is going to cost $500bzd a month! FIVE HUNDRED. Want something equivalent to US average speeds? It is going to cost you twice as much. Holy crap. That is after a $150bzd installation fee and two visits from the installers.
There must be a better way. I headed over to Smart phone's new shop on Middle Street and found a service that I didn't know existed. Probably standard fare in the US, but relatively new in Belize. Totally mobile internet. You are given a 3G USB portable connection, you pick a plan, and you are off. Sounds too good to be true, right? Perfect for a one computer household like mine...ideal for the user that likes to use her computer in the house or out by the pool...
Here are the prices: The actual USB plug-in is $185bzd (you get a snazzy key chain and carrying case too)...and then you buy packaged plans:
$30bzd for 1GB (which they tell you is good if you only Email, IM and download/upload pictures) up to $90bzd for the 10GB plan (which gives you the time to Web browse - seems important, play online games, Video stream and lots of other options)
All credit expires in 45 days, they will allow you to use 10% more and then, if you haven't paid again, you will get shut off. There is also a postpaid option.
You can text on your Smart phone (only) to get your balance or you can just call the office.
The speed I was told that I would get is 300-400k uploading and 450-550k downloading. About the speed that costs $180bzd a month from Coral Cable.
In theory, this all sounds ideal. I've been using the connection for a day now. I have found that the service is really good (to me...but see below) during the night time and right now at 6am but REALLY slow during the day. Like old school AOL dial up slow. Hmmm... Maybe it was just a one day fluke. Let's hope so. And I'll get back you and let you know how many days or weeks my $90bzd package got me...
I just tested the 6am speed at Speedtest.net and my download speed is 1.31M...fast for Belize! But according to this site, that deserves a Grade of D globally. The average speed in Mexico is 4.59M. And in the US, 12.59M. Global average is about 10M. Oh well, I'm happy with my Smart connect...for now.
Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos on San Pedro Scoop