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Jun 6, 2013

Internet rates high in Belize than CARICOM

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. 

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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7 Responses for “Internet rates high in Belize than CARICOM”

  1. Name Witheld says:

    BTL had a promotion where they were selling a notebook with a 128K connection on hire-purchase, I tried to get one for my daughter…I applied and was given the run around every time i go there they gave me one excuse after another. I was told by one of the employee to go get a recommendation from my area representative, she said that is the only way i can get the “package” Can you believe that they are using such a big company to play politics?
    Those idiots that is why Belize will always be left behind, i was shock to hear that i need to go to my area representative to expedite service that I would have to pay for. I closed my account with them and went to SMART and got a Smart Zoom, it is a bit more expensive but I wasn’t told to go see a politician to get the service that SMART is offering!!! Belize/Belizeans we need real changes in this country.

  2. Initiate says:

    Thank you Bevil and Bill for informing us of where Belize stands in Internet Technology, This information should instigate a lot in innovations and development in our country!

  3. Simple Simon says:

    Only things up under PM Barrow and his INCOMPETENT CORRUPT ADMINISTRATION ARE : CRIME, PRICES, UNEMPLOYMENT, PRISON POPULATION, MURDERS,HOMELESSNESS, all he seem to accomplish is to OPPRESS THE PEOPLE when will he work to CREATE JOBS,(rather than our young men taking up drugs and guns in the ghettos) PUT BELIZEANS IN A HOME OF THEIR OWN (rather than a cell) GROW EXISTING AND CREATE NEW BELIZEAN OWN BUSINESSES (rather than putting business owners in jail for outstanding taxes) ????

  4. iXCHEL says:

    Part of the problem we have in Belize in the Business sector is how BTL controls the internet and the speed available to customers. At the end it is about control…Free up the internet so that the students can use it….

  5. Leslie says:

    I think it is ridiculous that Belizeans are paying through their nose for Internet services. In addition, Internet Service Providers in Belize block certain services that people have access to in other countries. I think it is time the Belizean people demand that something be done. While in Belize over the holidays, I had to buy a portable Wifi device and paid $200 for it and had to keep adding more money in $50 increments because it was being used up too fast. Hopefully now that people are more aware of the situation, something can be done about it. It is a big rip off.

  6. Jackie says:

    Are we surprised? Government should be lobbying tirelessly for investment and progress in our country. but who would be interested in investing in Belize given the rate of corruption at the Government level?

    The world is watching Belize…

  7. Lift up your head says:

    Remember the 9th amendment? Were we not promised betterment? This is the result. We will have to take our licking beacause barrow will do nothing to address this matter.

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