The Telephone Situation (Dec
2006 plus updates below.)
Basically, the situation has not changed much, altho there is
a lot of hullabaloo about it.
You can read about the hullabaloo here,
a site maintained by the Belize Free Internet Consortium. As I have
pointed out elsewhere, Hon. Said Musa and the
PUP acknowledged that the Internet was key to future economic success in
1999. He commissioned a a blue ribbon panel to study the Services sector
of the economy and presented a report which was on the belize.gov website for
over five years. This year, it disappeared. (You can see it here.)
After that report was issued, the PUP pressed to quit the monopoly that BTL
had. A competitor, Intelco, was founded to break the monopoly, and was
awarded a contract to supply all of the GOB's communications. It a
farcical series of events, Intelco borrowed a bunch of money (about $88 million)
from the DFC and a Miami bank; built a set of towers and offices, and then...
shut down, defaulting on the loans. BTL continued to supply GOB
Speednet is a competitor in the Cellular arena, but they buy
all of their services from BTL!
The history of BTL, through Jun 2005, is related by Mark
Espat here. At that time, it appeared that
BTL might be sold to employees and other interested Belizeans, but the majority
share was sold back to Lord Michael Ashcroft. It soon became apparent that BTL
would not lower its rates -- the Belize was still basically in the same monopoly
situation it was in when the services report was published in 1999!
Mort recently, the PUC and the Legislator have expressed a
desire to allow people in Belize to use VoIP (Voice over Internet) systems to
make long distance calls. This has been thwarted by BTL. Their
blockage of such services as Skype and Vonage are related here.
secret deal to block VoIP is described here.
Most recently, BTL has announced a new service, WebTalk
which works like other VoIP services. By some accounts, it appears to be antiquated
My old partner and friend Hugo now has a calling center in
Corozal. His office, Stellar Links, is at 39A 4th Avenue
(half a block north of Reyes) and he offers calls to the US for $5 dollah a half
hour, $2.50 minimum for 15 minutes or less. You can inquire by mail here.
If you have additional comments about the current situation,
please write me.
has an interesting page on BTL and VoIP here.
2009) Belize has nationalized BTL!! Nestor "Net" Vasquez,
brother of my parnter Hugo, is now in charge again. (He was the prime
mover in the original privatization of the company.) You can find his
latest statement of the situation in THE STAR on this website. If you have
Adobe Acrobat Reader. click here and go to page
The fly in the ointment is... <gasp> "The
Lord" Here is an
interesting article on that situation.