|Belize Telecommunications Research|
Belize - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband
A market in need of further reform
Belize is a small country with less than 350,000 inhabitants, the only English-speaking nation in Central America. The country has closer affinities with the Caribbean region than with its immediate neighbours.
While Belize's GDP per capita is high for Central America, its telecoms services have attracted much dissatisfaction. Both fixed-line teledensity and mobile penetration are lower than in neighbouring countries.
The Belizean telecom market was officially liberalised in 2003, yet the incumbent, Belize Telemedia Limited, continues to hold a monopoly in fixed-line services and is the dominant provider of mobile and broadband services. In 2009, the state renationalised Belize Telemedia Limited, after a change of government brought to light a questionable Accommodation Agreement between the previous administration and Belize Telemedia Limited.
Although the rationale for the nationalisation was to improve conditions for consumers, Belize Telemedia Limited's prices remain high and competition remains marginal. The nationalisation further discourages foreign investment in a market plagued by frequent allegations of corruption.
The number of fixed lines continued to fall keeping fixed-line teledensity in single figures. Meanwhile mobile penetration rates continue to rise steadily. By 2011, of the total number of telephone subscriptions approximately 10% were fixed and 90% were mobile.
SpeedNet appears to be making inroads into the mobile sector, securing a sizeable market share by 2011.
A legal challenge launched by the former owners of Belize Telemedia Limited against the government of Belize, alleging the nationalisation of Belize Telemedia Limited to be unconstitutional, was dismissed by the Supreme Court in late 2010.
By the close of the Belize Telemedia Limited public share offer in February 2011 the Belize Social Security Board was the largest purchaser, holding a 20% stake in the company, leaving the government with a 73% stake.
Compared with its other economic indicators, penetration is low in Belize for virtually all telecom services; therefore, should the country achieve an independent, pro-competition and transparent telecommunications policy and regulatory framework, the telecom market, though small, could become promising for investors.Broadband subscribers and penetration - 2005; 2011
YearSubscribersPopulation PenetrationHousehold penetration
(Source: BuddeComm based on ITU and BTL with BuddeComm estimates)
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.
Last Update: 21 Mar 2011 Number of Pages: 19
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