Here follows from my previous post, Health Issues when Living Abroad, reason #1 for selling. So reason #2; the inability of having proper telephone/fax services, and toll free numbers.
A professional business requires good, dependable, and affordable telecommunication services. And all better if they can provide toll free numbers from USA & Canada.
Phone/internet service in Belize is provided by Belize Telemedia Ltd. (BTL), and in many areas there are not even any services, including cell phone signal. BTL is the exclusive telecommunication provider of Belize, and when a business has a monopoly it is usually not economically wise for the people of the country. Competition brings controlled regulations, openness, quality of services and competitive prices. So in the case of BTL, they can do, and charge, whatever they want. BTL long distance rates are currently some of the highest in the world. Depending on the time of day and the plan you are on, calling to the USA cost between .43¢ to $1.26 per minute. Calling to Canada between .25¢ to $1.08 and to the UK between .35¢ to $1.59. That is one issue that greatly affect doing business in Belize, or in any similar countries, making it difficult and sometimes not viable.
But when you are off-grid and have a reliable internet access, there are several good options such as Skype or Gizmo, and new technology like Magic Jack. Most of them work quite well, but obviously, not like a good old land line! We have experienced a few and are using Skype full time. Here are some things that you are able to do:
-Skype to Skype chat (type and voice). As long as both parties have downloaded Skype, this service is free, in real time, and very reliable. This would be the best quality.
-Incoming phone call/number. You can currently choose a phone number from 21 countries. When someone calls you, they are actually calling the country of your number and it rings on your computer wherever you are in the world. In our case, in the middle of the Belize jungle!
-Conference calling. Once with a relative in Abu Dhabi (UAE) and 2 in Calgary we had a conference Skype voice chat with web cams where we could all see each other. Trish in the UAE carried her laptop around and gave us a tour of her house! It was awesome, and free!
-Land Line Calling. This feature allows you to call any landline (or mobile phone) in the world, from your computer, at very affordable rates. The rate is based on where you are calling, not where you are calling from. The plan we are on cost US $3.00 per month and provides unlimited calls to USA and Canada. Calling the UK cost a mere .02¢ per minute! Unfortunately this service can sometimes be spotty and really depends on your internet connection speed and quality. I believe there can be factors on the land line end that also affect the quality.
2 samples of a Skype window
Those are just a few things you can do. There are many more features available. One downside is that toll free numbers are not available.
Unfortunately, those that get their internet connection through BTL are unable to use most of those VoIP services as they have been blocked. So in addition to charging horrendous amounts of money, they also stop you from other amazing, more affordable, options. There are many other countries, such as the UAE and China that block those VoIP services. If that isn’t a form of dictatorship, I don’t know what is!
So Skype through satellite internet is awesome to talk with friends and family! For business, unless those you are communicating with are colleagues that already know you and your business, it can work okay. But unfortunately it is not suitable for conducting business dealings with unfamiliar people and building new contacts as there is a slight delay in the transmission. Similar to a VHF radio, only one person can talk at a time, otherwise it disrupts the connection and neither person will be able to fully hear what the other one is saying. So when you’re talking to that person with whom it is already tough to get a word in, this makes it even more difficult!
1 ~ Living Comfortably In The Jungle Of Central America!
2 ~ Producing And Storing Your Own Electricity, You Have The Power To!
3 ~ Building Off-Grid In The Jungle, Fun But Challenging
4 ~ Easy Broadband Satellite Internet Access
5 ~ Water Supply Considerations, Off-Grid In The Jungle
6 ~ The Domestic Cats’ Life In The Jungle
7 ~ The Belize Mennonite’s Lifestyle
8 ~ How To Live As An Expat In A Foreign Country
9 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
10 ~ Living in Paradise! But, Where Is It?
11 ~ Solar Panel Placement & Sun Chart Creator
12 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
13 ~ Fleas & Ticks In The Jungle
14 ~ The Dangers Of The Black Poisonwood Tree
15 ~ To Buy Or To Rent When Moving Abroad
16 ~ Home Schooling When Living Abroad
17 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 1 of 2
18 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 2