Belize: The most expensive internet in the world?

When researching our move to Belize, one of our main priorities was good internet service, but we were shocked to see the cost of internet.  Since we run 2 internet businesses, always having a good, available internet connection is not only convenient, it’s near mandatory. Looking at the numbers, I didn’t believe them.

“Certainly, people don’t pay these rates which seem like highway robbery, right?”  After investigation and emailing back and forth with people that live in Belize, we were disappointed to find out that the numbers were correct and that yes, we will pay outrageous rates for slow internet service. Take a look:

Current costs of internet in Belize per month

  • 128 K     $49 bz     ($25 US)  128K is seriously laughable.
  • 256 K   $100 bz     ($50 US)  Still laughable
  • 512 K   $179 bz     ($90 US)  Laughable, but workable for most people.
  • 1 MB    $300 bz   ($150 US)  Ouch.
  • 2 MB    $500 bz   ($250 US)  Friends in the US pay $10/month for 2MB internet.
  • 4 MB    $850 bz   ($425 US)  Now I’m being robbed…$425 per month for 4 MB!

Internet access in Belize is controlled by a quasi-governmental entity- Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL). Although some satellite providers exist, BTL has a practical monopoly on internet access. They actually did have a legal monopoly until a few years ago. Some other companies are trying to compete but are having a tough time.

In September of this year, the Prime Minister Dean Barrow of Belize stated that BTL will have “both greater Internet access and a lower price to Belizeans“.   That sounded great, but it was the addition of 128K internet (listed above).  Are you serious?  I’m not sure what you can do with 128K internet, but I don’t have the time to wait watching the loading bar to find out! Bandwidth is the cheapest ingredient in the mix. BTL could go from 128kps to 8mbps and the hit to their bottom line would be pennies per subscriber.

Expensive internet in Belize

Expensive internet in Belize

Monopolies are stunting Belize’s growth

Since 1997 there have been many reports stating that Belize has electricity rates that are among the highest in Central America.  Rates for telephone and interservices are higher in Belize than in any other Central American country.   High utility rates are among the obstacles of doing business in Belize. Source When we lived in Costa Rica we paid $40 US for 2 MB Internet that was very reliable.  In Belize, that same service is $250.

VOIP Blocked in Belize

Not only are internet rates outrageous in Belize, but BTL also blocks the use of VOIP, including Skype.  The only way to utilize VOIP features in Belize is to work around them using a VPN. 

A VPN masks your IP address and makes your computer ‘look’ like it is somewhere else, like the US. It is utilized for privacy as well as getting around ridiculous bans on VOIP.  I use Witopia, but there are free versions as well.
The intention behind blocking VOIP access is to further monopolize communications within the country. They force you to use their phone service. Thank you VPN.

We can chat through Skype, but we cannot make calls with it unless we are on the VPN.

On November 23, 2011 Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow, addressed a business forum regarding VOIP.

“There is a continuum that we are looking at and that continuum will inevitably include VOIP. It is just a matter of timing and that company is looking anxiously at the whole equation to see when would be the optimum moment at which it can introduce VOIP. … The point is that it is complex but let me end with respect to that particular issue by repeating that VOIP is coming. To some extent—if I can be a little bit facetious—soon as you hear the announcement of the coming of VOIP, expect the follow day the announcement of the date of the general elections.”  Source

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!  Did you understand any of that? Basically, he’s worried BTL will lose revenue.  (Cue shaking my finger saying “Bad, self-serving government”)

How it effects us

For the traveling tourist or someone not looking to live in Belize full time, this isn’t much of an issue, it’s merely an inconvenience.  There are plenty of restaurants and hotels that offer free wi-fi (usually a slow connection).  But, for the potential ex-pat that wants or needs internet, these rates add a significant amount to monthly expenses and is something that should be considered.

Belize is still a beautiful country to live in, but its internet speed are as ancient as its Mayan ruins.

We are curious.  Where are you and what do you pay for your speed of internet?

Drop us a comment below with your answers.

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28 Responses to “Belize: The most expensive internet in the world?”

  1. Mary December 21, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Just ran a speed test and we have 5mg and paid 700 baht for the month. That is roughly $22. And that is for a short term (only a month) internet! Gotta love Thailand!

    • S King December 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

      5 MB! Wow…I haven’t had that in years.
      Mary, I thought you’d appreciate the government blah, blah, blah :)

  2. Emily December 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Great post, Sabina. It is a sad state of affairs, isn’t it? Our internet fee is included in our monthly HOA, but from what I’ve heard, all of Grand Caribe shares two 4 MB DSL lines. When it’s dead here during low season, we get to use a nice chunk of that bandwidth ourselves, but when high season cranks up, things get a lot slower. Dreading seeing what it’s going to be like these next few weeks!

  3. Sharon Hiebing December 22, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Sabina, in Cayo you can share bandwidth, which greatly reduces your monthly bill, without affecting your service much at all. I pay $109 bze ($54.50 usd) a month, which includes a $30 bze modem rental fee, for 2mb service. The speeds are great! I also run two businesses, one exclusively internet, so trust me, if it wasn\’t adequate, I\’d have bought a satellite dish and been done with it already.

    Even if BTL starts offering VOIP, you can rest assured it will be at an additional charge. While the cost of internet is ridiculous here, it is offset by many other things which are quite low, like free garbage pickup, cable for $22.50 usd (all U.S. channels), and free (if you have a cistern), or city water, as I have in Cayo, for about $8 usd a month.

    Because the government of Belize charges so little in taxes of any kind, their main revenue is through customs duty and apparently, internet and phone service. But you\’re right – expats need to be aware of this information. Great post!

    Sharon Hiebing
    Relocate Without Rose-Colored Glasses

  4. Brandon Pearce December 22, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Here are the rates for Internet in Malaysia. http://www.tm.com.my/ap/personal/internet/Pages/broadband1.aspx
    It’s about $44 for 4mb, but the house we’re in now is on a 2mb connection. It has gone down a few times, though.

  5. Living Outside of the Box January 7, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    Ouch! That is AWFUL!

    So, do you use a vpn to get the voip? We use a VPN, not only for our voip (not a necessity for us), but for many other reasons!

  6. S King January 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    Yes, we use the VPN for the Voip, as well as all banking and other private matters. The VPN is more private, especially on wireless networks at home or at restaurants and hotels.

    What are your major reasons for using a VPN?

  7. jessi January 31, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    I pay about 260bz for 1mb but thats also 30 dollars for the phone (prepaid) so 230 for the net.

  8. DianeToucan-Car March 3, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    Belize just may have the most expensive internet in the world. Poverty there prohibits most Belizeans from affording the ludicrous pricing there. Belize is like every other developing world in many respects but is especially beholden to GB and the USA. The Catholic church has its fingers in every aspect of the GOB and its tenants and frankly, it’s survival there rests on lack of information to the masses. (There is almost zero news about anywhere other than Belize and the Caricom community, though some British World News gets through) So on the one hand the monopoly must make its obscene profits somehow might as well gouge the well off while denying the poor access to information that could liberate them and “god forbid” break them from their caste. Having said that when I left Belize just over a year ago I was paying US150 per month for 256k, plus BZE 30 for the phone line that had to be installed and continuously paid for to house the line. So apparently some minimal change has occurred. FYI here the cost of a 12MB line is 19.99 per month guaranteed for five years not to increase in cost!

    • S King March 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

      Thanks for your candid and first hand knowledge at the situation in Belize. Now that we’ve visited more of the country AND been witness to the recent elections, I couldn’t agree with you more. The candidates did little more than talk about progressing their own party rather than the well being of Belize.

      • DianeToucan-Car March 9, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

        For what it is worth, I am not a jaded ex-pat, I originally went to Belize for a job at a local law firm after earning an LLM in US tax law. The firm that hired me was a fraud. I was the only licensed attorney in the entire 15 person firm. After I put them out of business I married a local and became a naturalized Belize citizen. I love Belize. I no longer live there because as a US attorney I do not have to subject my children to their horrific education system. My son has ADHD. The school in Succotz treated him like he had a disease. One of his report cards said, and I quote, from his second grade teacher and signed off on by the principal of the school, “Shannon could do much better, if it wasn’t for his disease.” The school also lowered his overall grade because he did not attend church regularly, even though Belize’ constitution guarantee’s that your religious affiliations cannot effect your ability to attend the Catholic schools there and opt out of the teaching of Catholicism. It was that report card that made me move back to the states after a decade in Belize. While there I tried to develop the world’s first not for profit high end resort where all the proceeds would benefit non-religious education. My company invested over three hundred thousand dollars in developing the property sold to me by the government for this purpose with the governments full backing. The government did not honor its commitment without demanding tens of thousands in bribes and only after I had built a five mile long road and built five buildings on the property. I am currently litigating this case. It all started with an ex-pat named David Paulson, who, through his company, Cayo Real Estate, defrauded me and my investors. Stay away from him, he is a liar and a cheater. And he has co-conspirators in the government. In my case he figured I would go away just like all of the others. He was wrong. Belize is worth saving. I am working on it from here now.

        • threecan too November 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

          i too paid for property from a real estate company in cayo, im just going to leave the name out for the moment as i also am going to litigate. but this expat is a liar and a cheater and if his political connections get him off the hook i am going to picket his office daily with plenty of reading material for any that wish to see. also lodging a complaint with the police internal affairs dept as this thief is a special constable and a disgrace to the crown, and is an american citizen.

        • Lee February 6, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

          I have heard same about the education.. namely in Succotz.. sad to say how behind they are in childrens disorders… And yes regarding Dave Paulson, with Cayo Real Estate so many complaints against him … dating way way back… so as I mention so often: Research… and as for the government yes too currupt for any foreigners to do good. I said when I lived here only a few years… IF you dont need anything from this country (namely Law / Government…) you’ll have a beautiful life, as soon as you need something from this country.. you’re hooped !!

        • hermann feueresser June 20, 2013 at 10:57 am #

          Oh come Antone, Didnt you rent from this Dave for 5 years a commerical bussiness for your failed Pizza place, in addition you lived right next door to him in Succotz. This guy is solid and respected in the Cayo west area. I rember you telling me you applied for so many G.O.B. jobs and you didnt get hired . I think you are just pissed because you could not make it here in Belize. And then you go to the U.S. and within three 3 years of being there you are being sued for a billon dollars for fraud??? Antone what you should due is get on the internet and request a search for Antone Accuarrdi Attorney criminal charges,You have 15 differant U.S. attorney General offices conducting fraud investigations referancing your Activties. Who ever reads this this guy is solid

        • Hermann Feueresser July 3, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

          Oh come on Antone,??. David Paulson is a solid Citzen and is a Special Policer in Belize. The reason you left Belize is because you could not get employed, didnt you tell me you applyed for G.O.B. poistions and could get hired??? Didnt you live nexr door to Dave?? You rented from him for 5 years and failed at your Pizza Business. People look up Antone accuardi Attorney criminal charges, you will see Antone is being sued for a Billon Dollars, and 15 U.S. STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICES are conducting criminal investigations into his activties. You should look at youself before trashing outstanding citzens.

      • Lee February 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

        I agree. And I havent heard any politician in America speak any differently.. thats the sad thing.. Belize mimicks the states way more than it should… America is not a good example of much.

    • Lee February 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

      Many reports on contributions from other countries for Belize omit Canada. We are a huge supporter. Just like the wars in other countries namely the States.. Canadians are there.. but forgotten too often. In regards to cost for Intenet and Landlines… do reseach… I pay $55.bzd/mo high speed, no installation costs no equipment costs…. BTL sucks!! Most do not require a landline.. cellphone is ample. And having one from each provider is not a bad idea either. And make sure when you buy a property you get good signal… its all about doing the research…..

  9. Eye In The Sky March 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    I live in Belize for over 40 years. I have every cent invested here. I would like to leave and go back to North America but it is impossible to sell for what it is worth. Might have to stick it out for another 20 years or die here. The internet is a joke for the prices you pay. The corruption is horrible. The politicians are uneducated morons. Most of the citizens of Belize are idiots. It is a constant struggle fighting off the burglars and hustlers.
    Belize is like any big city’s worst slum but with beautiful weather, seas and jungle.

  10. Mikamocha YE December 27, 2012 at 6:09 am #

    I thought Internet in Indonesia is the most expensive, here are the rates (telkom speedy ADSL):

    In the capital and 9 other cities:
    Dial Up (Rp165/1.7cents per minute)
    512 kbps (Rp200.000/US$20)
    1 mbps (Rp300.000/US$30)
    2 mbps (Rp600.000/US$60)
    4 mbps (Rp1.000.000/US$100)
    6 mbps (Rp1.700.000/US$170)

    In other cities and regencies:
    Dial Up (Rp165/1.7cents per minute)
    384 kbps (Rp200.000/US$20)
    512 kbps (Rp300.000/US$30)
    1 mbps (Rp600.000/US$60)
    2 mbps (Rp1.000.000/US$100)
    3 mbps (Rp1.700.000/US$170)

    Cheaper compared with Belize, I think.

  11. Lee February 6, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    Sorry you didnt get ALL the internet Costs and Speeds in Belize, I’ve lived here from Canada for 7 yrs. I pay $55.bzd ($28. usd/mo) for highspeed. VS. my first equipment was Hughesnet for $79. usd /mo. I didnt pay for install or equipment… just pay per month. AWESOME!! company called Infinite Wireless out of Spanish Lookout. Those that only check out BTL do pay rediculous prices and huge deposits as a foreigner. Do more research !!

  12. Filipe April 1, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

    Come to Timor-Leste and you see what what expensive is.
    a 512kbs line with no download limits is over 900 usd per month and it costs $600 to install it. and you never get the true speed

  13. Herman Feueresser June 19, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    Oh come on antone??, I can recall David Paulson assisting you and helping you, in addition, didnt you live next door to him in Succotz. The only reason you left Belize is because no body would hire you, You told me you applied for every G.O.B. poistion and they would not employ you. David has helped alot of people here in Belize and you are just a bad apple. Antone Accurdi attorney the reason you left the States is because you could not make it there. Oh I was on the interent and ran your name antone accuardi attorney criminal arrests You and your family are being sued for Fraud ,and 15 States Attorneys General offices in the U.S are conducting investigation on your activties.
    Who ever reads this i can say dave is solid and respected in Belize.

  14. hermann feueresser June 19, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    Oh Come on Antone?? This guy is Solid and a great guy. People, go and search antone accuardi attorney, criminal activity, it will be revealed that Antone is being Sued for a billon dollars for Fraud in additon there are 15 U.S.State Attorney General OFFICES that are conducting investigations into Antone activities.
    David is a outstanding guy, he represent attorneys in Belize.

  15. hermann feueresser June 19, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    Lee, I read your comment, Due you know who told me to e-mail you in referance to two properties then you e-mail back saying theres was a better property, it was Dave. He spoke very highly of you. Are you aware of the things said about you, and how you bad mouth the company you broker with, Diamond real estate. Dave told me you were good friends, does he know that your back stabbing him?? Hes helped alot of people and you know it. You know he does not use the computer, i am not the one that going to say anything to him. You need to fix what you stated.

  16. ursula k June 21, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

    I know its crazy, i can only afford the 512kb at this time, and I cant even load my mail when my husband is streaming a youtube video. I had the BTL guys come in again cuz I told them my 512 has issues. they came and the speed test showed only 450kb, and was informed by the technician that this is ok simply because BTL only guarantees 80%! We are being ROBBED~!!!!!

  17. Shawn August 22, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    Thinking of moving to Belize and found you post. As it was written a couple of years ago, I was interested to know if things are any better today? We will be moving to a rural area if we do move there, so guessing satellite internet service would have to be the best option for us. Any advice appreciated!

    Thanks!

    ST

    • David P October 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

      Update: “On December 1st, 2012, BTL once again doubled internet speeds for customers at no additional cost and introduced a new speed of 8Mbps.”

      source: http://www.belizetelemedia.net/residential-services2.php#hsi

      • David P October 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

        I forgot to mention that VOIP is no longer blocked. I can now use skype without VPN.

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