January 30, 2007
Executives from the Caribbean’s phone companies are in Belize this week for the annual meeting of CANTO, the Caribbean Association of National Telecom providers. This is CANTO’s 23rd meeting, and in the two decades plus since it was formed, the telecommunications landscape has been completely re-shaped. In Belize alone, the number of telephone subscribers has increased many times over since this country first joined CANTO in 1985. But while there’s been exponential growth, in their remarks at last night’s opening, BTL CEO Dean Boyce and Prime Minister Said Musa, were cautious: they advocated restraint and even protection of BTL; because they say, if it has to compete with Vonage, that could send local rates up, even as international rates go down.
Dean Boyce – BTL’s CEO
“We now face, find ourselves faced by foreign operators delivering voice services in Belize without a network. The VoIP providers are seen by many as the way forward because they offer call rates into the USA for example that are equivalent to domestic rates. They do however create some potentially dangerous repercussions to the local tariff industry and the local industry unless it is carefully managed.
We already use this type of technology and in fact these VoIP providers are using our network to connect their calls. This is economic discussion. The foreign VoIP providers make no contribution at all to the local telecom infrastructure in Belize and the cost of building and maintaining that infrastructure. Instead they simply access Belizean customers over the infrastructure provided by local operators such as BTL.
If BTL is now expected to compete face to face directly with a U.S. service provider on U.S. terms, the Belize telecom industry is now a part of the U.S. telecom industry then we must and will take whatever steps are required to meet that head on. We will have no choice but prioritize our resources, to charge at a rate that will allow us to recover our costs and stop subsidizing access.”
Rt. Hon. Said Musa,
“It is important that Caribbean governments are able to control their own destines and develop according to our own agendas and not to the financial agenda of foreign operators that seek to export the wealth of our countries and to limit our ability to achieve full universal service.”
Both Boyce and PM Musa announced that BTL has applied to the PUC to install a wireless high speed internet platform across the country.
January 30, 2007
Spreading their greedy protectionist philosophy all around the Caribbean…
Taking place in Belize City this week is the annual general meeting of CANTO, the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organizations. Opening ceremonies were held Sunday night at the Radisson, with Prime Minister Said Musa delivering the main address.
Prime Minister Said Musa
“It is important that a body such as CANTO protects or work to protect our local telecommunication industry. It is important that Caribbean sovereign governments are able to control their own destinies and develop according to our own agenda and not to the financial agenda of foreign operators that seek to export the wealth of our countries and to limit our ability to achieve full universal service. We can learn from the world, but in the Caribbean we must be masters of our own destiny. Organisations such as CANTO can insure that Belize and other countries within the region continue our strong historic progress and the strength of our domestic businesses. This bond, this partnership, this unity creates one strong voice resonating throughout the world.”
Canto was founded in 1985 and primarily represented the interests of Cable and Wireless, the region’s dominant telecom provider. Over the years the Organization has expanded its membership, but continues as the regional voice of full service operators, like B.T.L., who must now compete with emerging providers entering the market with wireless and cable T.V. based platforms.
January 29, 2007
By Ray Auxillou
Most of this story is arrived at, by information from lower level customer clerks, so one has to take this information with a grain of salt. This is what we can piece together from the three businesses in competition, closely guarding the trade secrets. The internet MARKET SHARE WAR in Cayo West hills and valleys, is over the rapidly expanding growth, to serve roughly 15,000 current existing homes and businesses with internet ISP services. Growth of new homes has been steady over the past five years and government continues to acquire land for new subdivisions and more and more REALTY offices go into business to serve the construction expansion going on, in the beautiful climate of ETERNAL SPRING, found in the highlands of the Cayo West foothills of the Belize Alps. The DFC is making a mint for the Trinidadian Bank that owns past government housing schemes out here in Cayo West. Houses are regularly being foreclosed, resold and re-occupied to the profit of all concerned. There seems no shortage of customers and incoming settlers?
Currently internet services are being supplied by BTL the major telecommunications provider in the country, that inherited the old colonial copper line system of telephone networks back from colonial days and which they decided to no longer maintain and expand. Satellite internet came in about seven years ago for those with big pocket books, which was originally DIRECWAY, but is now provided by a merger and restructuring with newer Satellite technology called the Hughes 7000 system. This internet provider is USA based and since it operates by satellites owned by US companies high in outer space, most middle and lower class Belizeans do not have the credit card facility and mailing address required in the USA to pay for it. Installers mostly come from either Corozal or Spanish Lookout. SMART the newcomer competitor to the telecommunications business out of Orange Walk have a local office in the twin towns and are selling their version of internet service through a cell phone.
The way these competing internet ISP companies for market share currently operate is via radio waves. BTL has the best operating service, with different bandwidth and speeds advertised up to 2 million bps, or DSL, which local consumers regard as excellent, but vastly overpriced. Some would say price gouging, or a ripoff? The reason they have the best service is because of the fiber optic international cable down on the coast, which allows unlimited speeds and bandwidth, as the cable goes under the Caribbean Sea. In a power play nearly ten years old, BTL paid for and acquired ownership of the international fiber optic NAP and because of political campaign donations, the government incumbent party was never able to nationalize this fiber optic access point for the national good. A political compromise that has thwarted and haunted telecommunications ever since, throughout the country of Belize.
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