Internet rates higher in Belize than CARICOM

Posted By: Marty

Internet rates higher in Belize than CARICOM - 06/07/13 11:51 AM

Internet rates have gone down recently and while some people are counting the extra change in their pockets, there really should be quite a few dollars more that internet subscribers could save. Belize has the highest internet rates as well as the slowest bandwidth in CARICOM. How bad is it? Well, a survey of the Caribbean to gauge the average price of internet costs completely rejected the idea of including Belize, since the figures were absolutely ridiculously high. And that is why an internet strategist and the research director for Packet Clearing House held a forum today with internet providers; including Speednet and Telemedia. The focus of the forum centered on awareness of what Belize should be doing to manage internet resources and to bring into fruition online opportunities. According to the Packet Clearing House representatives, productivity and revenue could be increased if the cost would simply go down.

Jose Sanchez

“You mentioned a survey that Belize was not included in that because you didn’t want to skew the numbers. What was that?”

Bevil Wooding, Internet Strategist, Packet Clearing House

Bevil Wooding

“That was a Caribbean survey on the state of internet pricing and broadband availability for the Caribbean countries. One particular study in that survey looked at the issue of average cost of internet access for a two megabyte connection. The cost of that two megabyte connection was so high in Belize that to include it in the rest of the region’s results would have caused a larger average than was actually reasonable. And so the survey developers felt that it was more appropriate to exclude Belize and give a more accurate sense of what the rest of the region is paying. Now that is not a good thing. That’s speaks to the extent that Belize has not been able to appropriately addressed the issue of cost of internet service and availability of high broadband internet service and those are some of the issues that we want to address.”

Bill Woodcock, Research Director, Packet Clearing House

“I believe the finding of the survey was that a two megabit internet service that cost as little as one and a half percent of someone’s monthly income in other countries in the Caribbean cost more than thirty percent of monthly income of someone in Belize.”

Jose Sanchez

“And what are the opportunities and what things need to be in place?”

Bill Woodcock

Bill Woodcock

“So what this workshop is about is the formation of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) which are the places where internet bandwidths come from. Internet bandwidths come from IXPs to people who use it by internet service providers. So right now, most of the bandwidth that is being consumed in Belize is being produced in Miami or Washington DC or New York. And people in Belize are having to pay to move that bandwidth back and forth. It is in the same way if you had to pay to move corn from Washington DC to here before you could eat it. It would be very expensive and it would not be very widely available. It doesn’t make sense to do it; it makes much more sense to have farms here producing corn here. Or in the internet context, have internet exchange points here producing bandwidth locally.”


Jose Sanchez

“Our two main providers, SMART and Telemedia, have you spoken to any of them regarding the cost or moving the internet exchange?”

Bevil Wooding

“Yes, this is not the first forum that we’ve had on this subject. The Caribbean Telecommunications Union has been engaging both the government and the providers to bring awareness of international best practice and to bring awareness of some of the strategies that can be employed in Belize. And it is the issue of cost and the issue of available bandwidth. So yes the communication has happened, but what has not happened is a speedy response. And so that is what we are hoping this wider discussion will achieve today and onward; that you have more people understanding what is at stake and more importantly what can be done to address the issue. Until the customers, until the general public, until the stakeholders make an issue of it, you are not going to have the incentive as a commercial entity to change the status quo and that is what we want to see.”

Jose Sanchez

“What’s the average price in the Caribbean versus Belize?”

Bevil Wooding

“That depends on the amount of bandwidth that you are looking at. With the two megs, the average price is around, about twenty U.S. or thereabouts. I think in Belize that two meg price is somewhere in the region of a hundred and fifty U.S.—I could be off by a couple dollars or so—but that generally is the spread between what people are paying. I have for example at home, a twenty meg connection to my home that my children enjoy and that I enjoy. You are laughing, but that is standard for me and I am paying somewhere around sixty U.S. for it. And this is typical; Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados. And the basic position is that everyone should enjoy that; it shouldn’t be an exclusive treat for nationals in other Caribbean territories. The whole Caribbean should be seeing rates that are more in line with international practice and international pricing. What we are hoping to come out of this is that people would understand that it is possible in Belize.”


The Packet Clearing House representatives were in Belize at the invitation of the Public Utilities Commission. News Five requested an interview with Telemedia’s Chief Operations Officer, Karen Bevans, who attended the forum, but she was unable to comment. 

Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Re: Internet rates higher in Belize than CARICOM - 06/08/13 11:26 AM

Building Bandwidth In Belize?

Last night 7News showed you that forum which the Public Utilities Commission organized in collaboration with the international, Non-Profit organization Packet Clearing House.

In this forum, the policy makers, along with the international experts, presented a new idea to the internet service providers in Belize to produce internet bandwidth in Belize, instead of purchasing it from abroad.

As the facilitators explained it involves setting up a relatively inexpensive bandwidth source in the country called an internet exchange point.

But before this forum, majority of Belizeans probably did not know that this was possible at all. So in that context, we asked the facilitators about their expectations, when it comes to the response from the ISP's in Belize.

They explained why, on the face of it, the companies may not receive it well, given the telecommunications environment that exists in Belize.

Daniel Ortiz
"Tell us how you guys plan to convince the Internet Service Providers here in Belize to come on board with this. I think they might see it as a foreign idea."

Bill Woodcock - Research Director, Packet Clearing House
"Well in the sense that these exist in almost all other countries but not Belize yet - in that sense yes it's a foreign idea but it's an idea that has been taken on by most other countries. Most other countries have adapted it as a practice that they want to do themselves. The Internet Service Providers are easily convinced because it reduces their cost as well they provide a better service for their customer which makes their customers happier and gives them better customer retention. The problem is probably with the two largest providers. I'm not an expert in the local market but typically the smaller providers are the ones who stand the most to gain and who will gain the most market share over time as an exchange point comes online and becomes successful where as the largest provider is often the one with the greatest investment in the status quo and whose least prepared to take advantage of market upheaval or radical improvements in the market place. In that sense we have the most work to do in convincing the incumbent to produce in an exchange point while everyone else is enthusiastic."

And continuing that frank discussion with us, the facilitators explained it is in the best interests of the dominant service providers in Belize to compete and provide a lower cost for their internet services. They say that contrary to the phobia, overwhelming statistics in other countries show that cheaper prices yield greater revenues:

Bevil Wooding - Internet Strategist, Packet Clearing House
"Markets that have strong dominant providers for example and this is not just in Belize, this is around the world - are normally markets where you find that there are very little concerns for what people want or what they would like to see. So how do you change that? You change that by exposing people to what exists in other parts of the world. You expose it by giving statistics, hard figures on what should be at play."

Daniel Ortiz
"What I've seen in the internet service providers - is that all the premium services that 8MG and other high level services are priced at a higher level. How does a policy maker protect the interests of the people while allowing reasonable growth to the ISP's?"

Bevil Wooding
"That's actually not as difficult as you might think it is. The rule of the policy maker, government and policy makers is to 1 - ensure market growth, 2 - ensure that consumers whether that is business or just ordinary citizens are empowered to use the technology in ways that renown to the country's benefit and good. Now when you look at what is happening with the high prices - what you have is a situation where only a small percentage of the population is able to afford the quality of internet that you need to receive the kinds of benefits in economic growth, in business, in social activity and so on. The concern is that 'if we drop the prices then we would not be seeing the same kind of revenue as ISP's' and that's false. In every other market that prices have gone down - markets have grown so you may pay less for the service but you have more people taken up the service and that has its own economics to it. Because what you have is a case where more people are taken the ISP's and we also have more people to create businesses and business opportunities."

Bevil Wooding is also the Program Director for the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, which has done extensive research on internet availability in the Caribbean.

And last night, we told you that the representative from BTL who attended the meeting, wanted to hold off on commenting on the idea until her company has had an opportunity to review it. Well, we contacted the Public Relations Manager from Speednet who promised to put us in contact with their technical people before the end of the day. We did not get a call back.

Channel 7

Posted By: Marty

Re: Internet rates higher in Belize than CARICOM - 05/09/14 11:34 AM

Internet rates in Belize are the highest, but the speed is the lowest

The latest stats on regional internet speeds versus cost are in, and Belize is coming in almost dead last, comparatively speaking. The report was submitted by the ICT Pulse, which has been tracking internet speeds and prices across the Caribbean since 2011. This year, they analyzed nineteen countries from the region. Of note is that of the nineteen, Belize is the only country which still offers a speed of one hundred and twenty-eight megs. Currently, there are six countries offering a maximum of eight megs. Five of them – Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St. Kitts, the Turks and Caicos – do so for less than one hundred and fifty U.S. dollars. Belize does so for three hundred and fifty-three dollars and fifty-seven cents, U.S. The study also looked at the best two-meg plan available. Again, Belize is dead last with the highest prices for a two-meg connection….one hundred and twenty-one dollars and twenty-two cents. The study then finally looked at what it calls ‘bang for your buck’ – the fastest internet speed that could be purchased for no more than sixty U.S. dollars per month. Once again, Belize is last. In the Bahamas, you would be able to access speeds of thirty megs for less than sixty dollars. According to the study, in Belize, the most you’d be able to get for that price is a five twelve kilobit connection.

Channel 5

2014 update of Internet speeds and pricing across the Caribbean

A 2014 update of fixed Internet broadband speeds and pricing across the Caribbean, and a brief comparison with our 2013 results.

As the Internet becomes increasingly important across the Caribbean, the telecoms providers across the region are continually adjusting and refining their offerings in that market. Since 2011, we have been tracking fixed Internet broadband speeds and pricing across the Caribbean. This year is no different. Again, we are updating our findings, and highlighting some of the changes that have occurred since the 2013 exercise.


Table 1: List of ISPs surveyed for 2014 Snapshot exercise (Source: ICT Pulse)

Data for this review was collected from the websites of widely used Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the countries covered. To the extent possible, two ISPs were examined in each country (Table 1), and the exercise focussed on fixed/wired (non-dialup) Internet services, and on service plans for domestic/residential customers.

The offerings from the ISPs varied drastically with respect to transmission speeds, hence the exercise was limited to identifying (per country):

  1. the lowest advertised download speed and the corresponding lowest monthly rate
  2. the highest advertised download speed and the corresponding lowest monthly rate
  3. the monthly rate for a plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps (Megabits per second), and
  4. the highest download speed plan that can be purchased for no more than USD 60.00 per month.

Under International Telecommunications Union standards, between 1.5 and 2 Mbps is considered the threshold speed for classifying an Internet service as broadband. Hence 2 Mbps has been used as a baseline reference for the comparisons performed.

Finally, it is emphasised that the review focused on the monthly rates payable for the specified Internet plans only. The exercise excluded initial subscription and activation fees, as well as any additional monthly charges that might be applicable. The rates were converted to United States Dollars (USD) when required, based on current commercial exchange rates. Applicable taxes, such as Value Added Tax (VAT) or General Consumption Tax (GST), have also been included.

May 2014 results

In this our 2014 review of Internet speed and spend across the Caribbean, we have widened the pool from 16 to 19, by including Aruba, Curacao and Suriname, from the Dutch Caribbean. Table 2 shows the minimum and maximum advertised download speeds available in those countries, and the corresponding best rates offered for those packages.

Table 2: Lowest and highest advertised download speeds and the corresponding best rates in select Caribbean countries as at May 2014 (Source: ISP websites)

In 12 of the 19 countries surveyed, the lowest download speeds offered is under 2 Mbps, but Aruba Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands, have Internet packages with download speeds as low as 128 kbps. Fifteen countries offer broadband packages with a maximum advertised download speed of at least 8 Mbps. The exceptions are Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname. However, ISPs in Curacao, Grenada, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are offering customers Internet plans with advertised download speeds of up 100 Mbps, and in Barbados, a160 Mbps plan has been advertised.

With regard to the best price across the region for a broadband Internet plan with an advertised download speed of up to 2 Mbps, Figure 1 ranks the best prices offered by country. It is highlighted that Guyana has been excluded from this assessment as the ISPs included in this review have not published pricing for a 2Mbps plan – the fastest plan is 1 Mbps. The lowest advertised price was recorded in Trinidad and Tobago, at USD 21.63, and is followed by Curacao, USD 24.51, and Jamaica at USD 28.18. On the other hand, the highest prices for a 2 Mbps plan, USD 121.22, was recorded in Belize, and was followed by the British Virgin Islands (USD 84.00) and the Turks and Caicos islands (USD 83.00). The average price across the Caribbean region for a 2 Mbps Internet plan, excluding Guyana, is now USD 48.81.

Figure 1: Monthly rates payable for an Internet plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps for select Caribbean countries as of May 2014 (Source: ISP websites)

To assess “bang for buck”, and in each country, we sought to determine what might be fastest Internet broadband plan a customer could purchase for no more than USD 60.00 per month. The results are shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Best Internet plan by advertised download speed for under USD 60.00 in select Caribbean countries as of May 2014 (Source: ISP websites)

The fastest plan was found in the Bahamas, where for USD 56.99, the monthly subscription for a plan with an advertised download speed of up to 30 Mbps could be secured. The next fastest plans, 25 Mbps, were found in Jamaica and Barbados, at approximately USD 39.86 and USD 50.00, respectively.

On other hand, the slowest Internet plan, 512 kbps, was recorded in Belize, and would cost approximately USD 44.45. The next slowest plans, 1 Mbps, were recorded in Guyana, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Antigua and Barbuda at approximately USD 49.10, USD 53.00, and USD 54.50, respectively.

Comparison with 2013 results

Within the past year, a number of important changes have occurred in Internet speed and pricing across the Caribbean. First, a few countries, specifically, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands have increased the download speed of their slowest plan, from 1Mbps, to 2 Mbps. Second, the fastest advertised download speed has increased in three countries:

  • Barbados – from 100 Mbps, to 160 Mbps
  • Cayman Islands – from 8 Mbps, to 25 Mbps
  • Grenada – from 12 Mbps, to 100 Mbps

Additionally, there have been some significant changes in the Internet pricing in the region. Figure 3 shows the difference in pricing between May 2013 and May 2014 for an Internet plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps. The change in pricing ranged from an increase of almost +14% in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, to a decrease of almost -40% in Trinidad and Tobago.

Figure 3: Percentage change in monthly rates between May 2013 and May 2014 for an Internet plan with an advertised download speed of 2 Mbps in select Caribbean countries (Source: ICT Pulse)

Finally, in averaging the price for a 2 Mbps plan across all of the countries surveyed (but excluding Guyana, as per the reason provided above), the averaged price dropped by USD 5.22 since May 2013. Between May 2012 and May 2013, the decrease in the average price across the region was USD 11.34, which is more than twice what occurred within the past year.

Based on the results recorded over the past three years, 2012—2014, the rate of decline in the pricing of a 2 Mbps plan may be slowing down. However, the extent to which such a trend can be confirmed remains to be seen, as the cost of technology continues to drop and local ISPs aim to remain competitive.


Posted By: Marty

Re: Internet rates higher in Belize than CARICOM - 05/16/14 10:56 AM

IDB Broadband Report Rates Belize Broadband 25 out of 26.

On Monday we told you about a survey of Caribbean countries, which found that high speed internet in Belize was the most costly in the region. The top speed being offered - that's 8 megs - is also among the slowest. Well a new study by the IDB finds that of 26 countries surveyed for broadband penetration, Belize is ranked 25 out of 26, behind only Haiti. But, it's not just a matter of speed or price, the broadband penetration index as they call it, is calculated based on 37 variables obtained from various public sources and grouped around four key pillars for the development:

I) Public Policy and Strategic Outlook, II) Strategic Regulation, III) Infrastructure and IV) Applications and Training.

Chile ranked first.

Channel 7

IDB: LatAm lagging behind on broadband access

Latin America and the Caribbean have some catching up to do in the provision of broadband internet services, according to a score sheet compiled by the Inter-American Development Bank.

Broadband penetration is expected to grow quickly, at a compound annual growth rate of 11.9 per cent in the five years to 2015 across the region, but for now it compares poorly to OECD countries.

The IDB’s ranking based on four criteria – public policy, strategic regulation, infrastructure and applications and knowledge – gave the region’s 26 countries an average 4.37 out of a maximum 8 points, calculated from 37 separate indicators compiled by researchers. By comparison, OECD countries scored an average 6.14.

Chile came top of the class with a score of 5.57, followed by Barbados at 5.47 and Brazil with 5.32. All three can find some reason for cheer after ranking higher than European emerging markets such as Slovakia (5.13) and Poland (4.99).

But dragging down the average were countries whose entry into the digital age has been frustratingly slow. Poverty-ridden Haiti had the lowest mark (1.71), followed by Belize (3.11) and Surinam (3.12), while Bolivia (3.16 overall) did particularly poorly on its infrastructure (a score of just 1.92).

Overall, broadband penetration in Latin America was 8.4 per cent at the end of 2012, according to a report by telecoms research group BuddeCom last year, slightly below the global average of 9.2 per cent.

This isn’t just an irritation for Netflix subscribers or the region’s hordes of social network users. A dearth of reliable and speedy internet connections risks putting economies at a competitive disadvantage. A recent survey by the IDB suggested that a 10 per cent increase in penetration carries with it a 3.2 per cent rise in gross domestic product, and a 2.6 per cent lift in productivity.

For now, a huge hurdle is affordability: broadband in Latin America and the Caribbean is nearly eight times more expensive than the average in OECD countries, though less dear than in the US and Canada. It also tends to be much slower. Forty-three per cent of the Latin American population living in areas served by fixed broadband do not acquire the service, according to a study last year by mobile operator body GSMA, boosting the thesis that roll-out is most likely to come through mobile offerings and dongles. More than half the region’s inhabitants – around 330m – now own mobile phones, underscoring the potential for growth in this area of the retail telecoms sector.

Several countries have measures afoot to tackle the broadband gap. A national plan in Peru aims to boost penetration from 4 per cent in 2011 to 9 per cent by 2016; and Uruguay’s Antel is rolling out a network to take super-fast fibre direct to 720,000 households. Most ambitious of all, the Union of South American Nations has conceived an idea for a 10,000 km-long fibre optic broadband ring running through its member states as a way of reducing costs and increasing the velocity of data flows – though this is likely to be a few years off.


Posted By: vincent818

Re: Internet rates higher in Belize than CARICOM - 05/27/14 06:50 PM

Hi Marty,
Oh my lord…. I’m so discouraged to find out that Belize virtually does not have Internet service! Yesterday at this time I was so pumped up and excited because I spent the whole weekend planning my long awaited two week trip to Belize, because I was as sure as somebody can be without seeing first, that I wanted to move to either Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker. I’ve been researching Belize off and on for a couple of years now, but this past weekend I actually set dates and picked airfares and accommodations; one week on each Island. Then last night I came across something online that was talking about how bad the Internet service is in Belize, and I dug a bit deeper. NOOOooooo..!!!! I must have broadband to make all my (VOiP) business calls throughout North America. My dream of moving to Ambergris Caye to work and eventually retire was flushed in an instant. I was going to hire a team to work with me in Belize, maybe lease an office in San Pedro, if that's even permissible? It’s a moot point now!!
It’s been over a year since you posted about the pow-wow workshop meeting. Well Marty, is there any good news on the horizon you can report? Be honest, do you see real HSI service coming to Belize anytime in the near future? Even if it’s a couple of years away, I would still like to keep my scheduled trip to Belize this year and check out cost of living, housing prices, and the culture.
Let me know….
Thanks, Vince
Posted By: beachbumin

Re: Internet rates higher in Belize than CARICOM - 05/27/14 06:59 PM

Originally Posted by vincent818
Hi Marty,
Oh my lord…. I’m so discouraged to find out that Belize virtually does not have Internet service!
Gosh, that is certainly a surprise to me since there are lots of expats on the island, including myself, that work via the internet. In addition, we use Vonage with a vpn and get great reception and voice service with either a 1 mbps or 2 mbps connection. Sure the internet service is more expensive than in the states but it works just fine. The service is miles ahead of what was available a short 5 years ago. Good luck
Posted By: vincent818

Re: Internet rates higher in Belize than CARICOM - 05/28/14 03:31 AM

Hey Beachbumin, I use Vonage for all my inbound calls, but I use Skype (without video) for all of my outbound calls. And I usually have a couple other windows open the whole time. Do you ever make Skype calls, and if so, how often do those calls drop, if ever? Also, a friend of mine that travels quite a bit said there might be a delay when using VOiP and calling/talking from Belize to North America. He says it's happened to him several times when he's out of the country and calling back home. Any opinions?
Posted By: Marty

Re: Internet rates higher in Belize than CARICOM - 05/29/14 10:31 AM

i work constantly on the internet when I am in Belize. You should give it a try and see how it works for you if you have special considerations. I think you'll be fine...
Posted By: beachbumin

Re: Internet rates higher in Belize than CARICOM - 05/31/14 11:02 AM

BTL internet has not been working at night last several nights. Of course BTL is clueless. Any others experiencing same issue. Thanks
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: Internet rates higher in Belize than CARICOM - 05/31/14 11:58 AM

Vincent's posting points out the biggest problem with the internet - the idea that people think they can use it to find out things that are best learned in person.
To decide to move to Belize, and then to decide not to move to Belize - by virtue of online "research" ? Makes no sense to me at all. "Moving" means MOVING - get off the chair and have a first-hand experience - you may be surprised at the wonders that await you.
PS - this is being sent and posted online - with a system that works fine - and I am in Belize.
Posted By: elbert

Re: Internet rates higher in Belize than CARICOM - 05/31/14 01:46 PM

I'm in Belize also and have high speed DSL internet that I'm on everyday marketing from home and work. It sometimes is a little annoying as it goes down on occasion, but for the most part I earn my living with daily internet service from this little island in Belize.
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