REPORT #37 Jan 1999

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

The Reporter published an article, Oct. 3rd., that said, many internet users in Belize are using the pre-paid debit card, or credit card system for international phone calls via the internet. The software is called "net phone". International calls are made to any phone you wish. The calls range from a low price of .60 USA per minute compared to the BTL price of $2 USA per minute. BTL says they cannot monitor it and are aware.

In Belize, the average unlimited internet user wishing to operate any kind of on-line business through the week, or operate a web page server, or any other kind of full time unlimited access to the internet hookup for commercial purposes has to pay around $1600 Bz or $800 USA per month minimum, compared to $25 USA unlimited use in Panama, or $19 unlimited internet use in the USA. The latest internet rates are $45 for the monthly fee and $4 per hour after the first eight hours. With an average on-line time of 10 hours per day necessary for the smaller businesses and 24 hours a day for international financial service businesses, internet unlimited access in the country of Belize is severely curtailed. The dampened restricted national economic returns statistics from internet investment businesses show this stranglehold on preventing economic development. In most cases, the internet and telephone land lines are not even available throughout most of the country. Like paved asphalted roads, only a few places have the infra-structural ability of even using the internet.

Government policies have been over the past seven years, geared to short term cash high paid returns from AT & T incoming foreign calls, coupled with severe restrictions about modernization of any telecommunications capabilities. Artificially created, heavy penalties and fines plus jail sentences have been the law of the land protecting what politicians saw as a cash cow for political party treasuries. Telecommunications development has been severely curtailed and the country of Belize has suffered economically from the lack of longer term development infra-structure at the national level of the six districts comprising the nation, in favor of immediate cash to satisfy the needs of a centralized bureaucracy and political party machinery. It is still difficult, if not financially impossible to create most larger scale internet businesses in the country of Belize. But there were earlier this year of 1999, the promise of some alternate developments in the tiny Corozal Free Trade Zone on the northern border. There has been no recent news of whether this venture failed, or succeeded, or not; to provide $20 USA a month unlimited internet access within a small geographical enclave of about a square mile, in one remote district.

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