REPORT #36 Jan 1999

Produced by the Belize Development Trust
Belize has a problem. It is a server problem. There are literally thousands of Belize web pages, dealing from businesses within Belize, and those about Belize from outside.

Those who should know on the internet committee, say, with requests for confidentiality. ( Persecution comlex? ) That as far as they know, nearly all the Belize Web Pages in the hundreds, if not over a thousand are located on servers outside the country of Belize. The exceptions seem to be the Educational establishments that have servers for students and institutional pages. Business and Commerce, plead that it is cheaper, often free, and more reliable to use servers in other countries. Server competition and price and offering alternatives ( free web space paid for by advertising logos ) in Belize are zero! Zilch!

Blamed are the Belize Telecommunications Monopoly. Telephone price rates for server establishment in different districts of the country. There is no one standard service, or price! There seems to be no commercial servers for establishment of all those hundreds and possibly several thousand web pages within the country of Belize. Nor are there competitive services offered commercially for web page space and server availability. Several persons contacted who would like to do so, say they are prohibited in one form or another, by government policy. The communications monopoly and there are no alternatives.

In practice the Belize Business Community seem to have met the explosion of business by the internet and web page locations, by arranging to use offshore servers, mostly in the USA. Most of which are FREE! Usually paid for by somebody else's advertising pop up, advertising logos.

In the last nine months, the problem of server location and competitive offerings for web space within the geographical sovereign borders of Belize is becoming ever more acute. At least three VERY LARGE investment groups that have talked with me, have opted to go elsewhere in the Caribbean. The major reason was server availability for establishment of web based business, reliability, and phone costs. It seems strange, to think that a minor investment, very small, such as the cost of a server, is driving away business from establishing in Belize. Yet is seems to be so. The reasons for web based businesses, ( which are growing exponentially ) wanting to locate their sites in Belize, is legality. A business that operates in an international arena, will come under the laws and regulations of the country in which the web based business is located. If you advertise in Germany and are located in a server in the USA, your business would need to comply with USA regulations of many different government departments, both at State, County and Federal level. International businesses dealing around the world, find it more convenient to locate a headquarters in a tax haven and a country with little, or any regulatory bodies. This cuts paper work, manpower requirements and overhead costs. Plus, only the one country needs to be satisfied and all other countries utilizing the business and customers therein are subject to figuring out whatever rules they must follow in their own countries.

My own experience has been solely in the financial arena. But legality, ease of compliance and other factors decide on where to locate your business headquarters. Cayman Islands is the 5th largest financial center in the world. Yet Belize in comparison, is not even a blip on the charts. The Virgin Islands has the reputation for the easiest compliance and best place to locate ( they have no regulations ). But sometimes places with a free and easy open policy for business, do not have the competitive advantages of an open telecommunications policy. This cuts out most of the British Caribbean and those controlled and influenced by many European countries, like the U.K., France and the USA. Where telecommunications is monopolized, or controlled, you are not going to find a big growth in offshore businesses. The main problem being competitive servers and availability. Reliability of a telehone system. BTL is pretty good in most areas of the country of Belize, but not all.

I myself, small scale as I am, face the same problem as businesses talking over a $100 million dollars. I cannot find anyplace to locate my webpages in Belize at an affordable cost. I could theoretically hook up to BTL phone lines and do my own server with a small P.C. on a desk, but in practice, this is not permited in Belize. So, not only foreign businesses looking for a place like Belize to locate, are turned away; but even Belizeans must go to other countries to locate their Belizean websites. It is cheaper and more reliable and there is no hassle with regulatory bodies. The businesses that find this a drawback are ones, where the advertising costs come under different international legal jurisdictions. They really want a place like Belize to headquarter in, if they could get the sovereign legal establishment and cost factors of server locations in Belize.

Server establishment legislation needs to be passed, removing it from the BTL monopoly and opening it to Belizean entrepreneurs. There is a world wide market out there for locating web pages on a Belizean sovereign geographically located server, or servers. I was considering setting up my daughter in the Corozal Commercial Free Trade Zone, but it does not seem to be possible in Belize. One more locally owned business in Belize has bitten the dust. The supply of web space on a server within the borders of Belize.

( Internet regulations and arrangements are changing rapidly. The above statements were true at the time of writing, but may change overnight. )

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