Hang up and call again!

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 5            February 13, 2003

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Communicate: to make known; disclose. Communication: the exchange of ideas, messages or information. Communication technology has come a long way over the years and making phone calls is usually an easy task unless you are in Belize. For at least the last six months, the people of San Pedro Town have been forced to put up with ineffective phone systems. If someone is making an inter-island call, nearly half of the time, it is necessary to call the same number twice in order to reach the person they are calling. The first time the number is dialed, it rings like there is no one at home. Usually on the second attempt, the person answers and explains they were at home but their phone did not ring minutes before that time.

    Several residences and businesses, as well as The San Pedro Sun, have been complaining to Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL), the so-called "Value of Voice," about not receiving phone calls since September of last year. Residents pay $20 per month and businesses $50 per month per phone line for the privilege of BTL service. Since this newspaper had also invested in an answering machine, "Caller ID" and "Call Waiting," it was unreasonable to think there should ever be a single phone call missed. At that time, we were told to replace the phone line that our answering machine was connected to. That made no improvement in connections. The second time we were told BTL could find no problem because when they called us, the call was completed.

    In November, The San Pedro Sun was still receiving complaints of people not being able to contact the newspaper. At that time, it was learned from customer service in Belize City, that BTL technicians were aware of the problem and "were working on it."

    In defense of the San Pedro Town BTL office and repair personnel, they have provided this newspaper with very good service. They were reportedly told the same thing for the past six months, "that technicians were working on it."

   At Christmas, it was also learned that several e-mails were also not received by the newspaper from people in and out of country. Checking on the missed connection problem again, BTL assured us they were "still working on the problem."

    Last week, personnel from The San Pedro Sun were told they could not be reached by phone, again. This week, after several phone calls, it was finally revealed that BTL is having trouble with their "switch" and that San Pedro Town and other locations are experiencing the same plague of missed calls. The good news is this is an "intermittent problem," and BTL "is monitoring the situation." The bad news is there is no time frame for when this problem will be rectified.

    BTL spokesperson Liston Hall stated he understands the loss of business that can occur from one missed phone call. He assured the newspaper that BTL is in contact with the people who are responsible for the faulty switch. BTL will update The San Pedro Sun from time to time on any progress with this situation. Anyone wishing to register a complaint may call Belize Telecommunications Limited at 226-2199 or 227-7085.

    No answer? This newspaper advises you to hang up and call again!

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