One the smaller countries in Central America, Belize is the only English-speaking nation in the region, and has closer affinities with countries in the Caribbean than with its immediate neighbours.
While Belize's GDP per capita is high for Central America, its telecoms services remain poor by regional standards. 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 (BTL), continues to hold a monopoly in fixed-line services and is the dominant provider of mobile and broadband services. In 2009, the state renationalised BTL after a change of government brought to light a questionable Accommodation Agreement between the previous administration and the company. Although the rationale for the nationalisation was to improve conditions for consumers, BTL's prices remain high and competition is marginal. The government has undertaken some measures to improve competition, notably by obliging BTL in mid-2013 to open its networks to VoIP services.
The number of fixed lines continues to fall as customers adopt mobile services for basic telecoms. This has kept fixed-line teledensity low, while mobile penetration continues to rise steadily. The mobile sector account for over bout 90% of all phone subscriptions in the country.
SpeedNet is making inroads in the mobile sector, securing a sizeable market share.
Compared with its other economic indicators, penetration is low in Belize for virtually all telecom services. An independent, pro-competition and transparent telecoms regime supported by an effective regulatory framework is needed to develop the telecom market, making it more attractive for investors despite the market's small size.
In 2013 DigiCell contracted Ericsson to upgrade its network with LTE technology, vastly improving mobile broadband connectivity.
BTL in mid-2013 began allowing unrestricted VoIP access for the first time.
DigiCell in mid-2014 introduced a new roaming deal to 30 countries.
Penetration of services 2014 (e) Service | Penetration Broadband | 3.7% Mobile | 54% Fixed-line | 7.6% (Source: BuddeComm based on industry data)