Friday, June 12, 2009



We are a small country, but still after 20 years of trying, by both political party governments, we still have no national internet service in Belize our country. All the internet providers, still cater only to population density hotspots. Mostly district capitals. We did receive an international fiber optic cable but that belongs to only one internet provider and is restricted to use for population density hotspots, where DSL can be offered. There was an alleged upgrade from copper wire telephone lines, to cell type telephone radio service, some years ago, but that turned out to be a cheaper way of doing things, for less capital investment and much higher profits when the telephone system turned from copper wire, monthly fixed rates, to by the minute pre-paid type, radio transmission cell phone calls. Much more profitable for those telecommunications providers, who had less capital investment, less maintenance, smaller overheads and very much higher profits. It is not unusual for the main internet provider to suck out $30 to $60 million a year in clear profits. ( That is another political lack story of itself! ) In a population of 300,000 of which 80% are under 15 years of age. Most of which telecommunications profits are not even re-invested in the country for development, but taken offshore to invest in other countries. Most rural district people are using satellite systems, if they can afford and arrange it, but the USA satellite provider only allows those in the continental USA and the use of satellite systems within the country of Belize is more of a bootleg operation. If you are not an upper middle class person and do not have relatives in the USA and a USA credit card, then the use of satellite is not an option. Nowadays, software and business operations have become so bandwidth intensive, satellite users in Belize with serious business intentions cannot even use the satellite systems, because while the download speeds and bandwidth are good enough for emails and text messages, the upload bandwidth limitations eliminate any serious business requiring internet within Belize for the international arena. One photograph can bog down a satellite system for 5 or 10 minutes. Imagine those businesses in Belize trying to work with hundreds of photographs or data programs by the second ? Investment firms are stymied, due to the requirement of rapid contact via internet systems. Farmers and producers are also stymied in the rural areas, because they cannot expand their businesses, or even start new ones, as without good telecommunications trying to communicate and find information, or give it to international customers is such a dreary mind boggling fight, most just give up, or restrict themselves to business things that do not require fast telecommunications. The government itself cannot even provide reliable telephone service to the capital of Belmopan bureaucracies and citizens. It is faster to take a horse and wagon to the capital and deal with a government bureaucrat, over the counter, than trying to telephone. That kind of system is not development conducive. The country of Belize is suffering development growth, from lack of a decent telecommunications provider.
Since this problem has existed from since the last time the UDP ( our current government ) was in office, ( 15 years ago ) you would kind of think a political solution would have been found, or bids offered for a foreign investor to supply national internet DSL and telephone service here in Belize by now. Alas! Even though this is the second time around for the UDP government of the day, with a 10 year hiatus of the PUP government in between; they our current government leadership are no further along today in solving the problem of supplying telecommunications to the whole nation of Belize. In fact, it does not even seem to be on their UDP CABINET priority lists? No mention is mentioned of the development problem, and if you do not debate the issue in Cabinet, then you cannot either find a solution.
Sad to say, while there are difficulties, the biggest one is lack of political leadership by both mainstream political parties during their time in government. We seem to be plagued with elected officials who are driven by self enrichment schemes, rather than elected officials who want to develop our nation. As in any generalizations, there are the odd exception to the rule. In the meantime, Belizeans in the districts with a yen to be entrepreneurs and businessmen who wish to expand, are simply ground down by lack of telecommunications service. Politicians and bureaucrats get salaries, and work nine to five with perks of all kinds, what do they care about the private sector public, except when tax revenue receipts fall off endangering their bureaucratic fiefdoms. There is a reason for low GDP percentages, high national debt to GDP ratios and the factual resemblance to a sleepy tropical African style country. Most of the problem is pure political, or lack of political work. This is an opinion article piece.

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