In San Pedro, Belize: No room at the Inn-ternet

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Saturday morning we set off in search of the single most-prized possession on Ambergris Caye: A home WiFi connection.

Just about every bar, café and restaurant on the island serves WiFi with your drinks and meals. That works once in a while but do you really want to be knocking back a half-dozen beers every day while checking your e-mail and uploading pictures?

You can see the problems involved in having to eat or drink every time you want to get on the Net. I can see the future me: an overweight, slightly alcoholic, expat with great Internet skills …

As best I can tell, there are three primary Internet sources here – Smart, Coral Cable and BTL.

Belize Telecommunications Ltd. (BTL)  is the gorilla in the room. Every commercial Internet provider buys their bandwidth from the government agency. They don’t work on Saturdays.

Smart is the tech whiz kid, a portable card you can take with you anywhere but users we talked with say it is s-l-o-w.

Coral is the feisty upstart, challenging BTL for customers — while still being dependent on it for its pipeline.

You know me. I’m a sucker for upstarts.

So we went to Coral Cable, which was actually open on Saturday. Yea, upstart!

“I’m very sorry, we’re not taking any new customers at present.”

An internet company not adding new customers? Unthinkable.

Welcome to island life, my friend.

“We’re experiencing some technical issues right now that make adding new customers impossible.”

The technical issues, as best we could determine, is that BTL sells a fixed amount of its capacity to Coral. And this being the High Season, Coral is currently maxed out and negotiating for a bigger piece of the pipeline.

Which puts BTL in a nice negotiating position, I should think.

It’s like housing: Scarce  in High Season, plentiful the other eight months of the year.

Shortly after we left Coral’s office, their entire Internet system went down.

On Monday we’re off to BTL and hope that they have room for one more Internet hookup.

Meanwhile, we’ve tapped in at WiFi-with-breakfast places like Estel’s and Melt but you begin to feel a little guilty about hogging a table during the busy season when everybody makes their money.

So if Rose or I am a bit non-communicative over the next week it is because we’re limiting our Internet activity.

Instead, we are bike riding all over the island, reading some nice books, food shopping, cooking, meeting new people, exploring, relaxing, falling more in love with each other …


Maybe we don’t need that WiFi connection.

UPDATE: Be careful what you ask for! We cycled over to BTL this morning and Vanessa Guerrero couldn’t have been more helpful and delightful to work with. She’s set us up with home Internet, which the techs will install some time before Thursday.

Vanessa was born on the island, left as a baby and returned at ages nine and 16, the last for good. She has seen it all — the expansion from quiet little fishing village to TripAdvisor’s No. 1 island destination in the world.

She’s the kind of person you’d love to stroll around town and see what it used to be through her eyes.

For now, back to the bikes! Let’s roll, Rose!



6 thoughts on “In San Pedro, Belize: No room at the Inn-ternet

    Pepper carpenter said:
    February 24, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Love following your posts! We just purchased a condo on the island, closing in April.
    My husband will be down in April to do the same….hook up WiFi…electrical accounts etc. and most importantly …purchase a nice couple of bikes. Where did you guys find yours.?
    We bought at Ambergris Lake Villas, just south of town. Love the area.

    If you haven’t found it yet……you MUST visit The Baker!! We were there nearly everyday on our last visit. Great cinnamon rolls….whole grain breads and wonderful people.


      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      February 24, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      That’s great! the Villas are really nice. Congratulations.
      You’re not far from the newly opened Zen Arcade if you are looking for yoga, and a whole menu of good things for the body and spirit.
      We got our bikes at Castillo’s Hardware just before the traffic circle and across from the Phoenix resort. Very nice and knowledgeable people. The basic bike wasn’t more than $160 US, to which we added fenders (come in handy when it rains) and baskets (very handy).
      Others we met spoke highly of The Bakery. Must definitely check it out. We stopped in briefly last Sept. late in the day and got some tasty cookies. Sounds like there’s so much more to discover. Good luck.


    Wes Witt said:
    February 24, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Ok, You failed to mention speed and price. We are on Hughesnet and not very happy. When I went to speak with Coral they said we could get it but, with the quality of the digital cable 6 miles north, I was not ready to take the plunge. I am curious to see how your experience with BEL works out. I have been trying to get them to add my email address to their electricity billing for 6 months. Happy biking!


    Kathy Chavis said:
    February 24, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Glad you could get WIFI. I have been reading about BTL and new cell phone users on the island no more unlocking cell phones?


    Belize Blog (@SanPedroScoop) said:
    February 24, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Ha. Let’s ROLL. Mi-Fi is the TICKET.


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