Cellular Phone Service In Belize – Digicell and SMART

Belize woman on cellular phone
Belize cellular phone and Internet access rates are the highest in Central America.

Belize is well served by cellular service that covers most of the country and certain marine areas close to major coastal population centers. The major telecommunication company is the government owned Belize Telemedia Limited. The second company SMART is controlled by the Ashcroft Alliance allegedly through local proxies, namely the Briceno family.

Belize Telemedia Ltd. offers its cellular service under the “DigiCell,” brand, a digital service on the GSM dual band 850/1900 MHz technology, and lately on the cutting edge 4G LTE network provided by Huawei. Cell plans in Belize are easy to understand. Basically they can be broken into two segments – Post and Pre Paid.

Digicell Post Paid plans are attractive for businesspersons, Belizeans or expatriates. The cell number is permanent. If you damage or lose your cell phone or the SIM card, you can get a replacement SIM for a nominal charge with your same number. Post Paid Plans are Offered under the Digicell Premier Plan which has the following requirements:

Current Passport or Belize Social Security Card. A non-Belizean resident must produce evidence of  intended Belizean residence for the next 12 months. A deposit may be required. This is determined at the time of activation at DigiCell locations. In 2016 both companies have been offering 4G cellphones and devices at discounted prices. Regretfully, these devices are old models. Newer models are also offered but on monthly loan payment plans that work out to about 35% above the cost of purchasing a cell phone at local cell phone distributors. Many Belizeans use U.S. carrier cell phones that are unlocked to be able to connect to the local cell phone companies. Some of the places to buy cell phones in Belize are from the cell phone companies and from bricks and mortar mom and pop phone shops.

Digicell Service Plans With DigiNet Bundle

In 2018 BTL rolled out its Internet Fibre Network. Apart from very basic Internet access via high-speed fibre, it also rolled out its Diginet Bundle Plans. These plans work out to approximately 50% less in cost and twice the speed of its previous offerings.

On 1 February 2022 the company upgraded its Internet Services:

DigiNet Boost Plans (inclusive of GPON Modem rental)

DigiNet Entry Plan 20Mbps at $49, DigiBasic Boost 40Mbps at $79, DigiDouble Boost 80Mbps at $119 and DigiTriple Boost 150Mbps at $199.

SMART Cellular Service from Speednet Communications

Smart Telecom Belize offers much the same service as Digicell except that it uses the CDMA network spectrum. Smart offers slightly lower prices compared to Digicell. SMART began operating in March 2005 and is owned by the Briceno family, but allegedly tied to the Ashcroft Alliance. All its services are delivered over WIFI and air spectrum.

Belize Telephone and Internet system

Actual Internet download speeds recorded in 30 Caribbean countries/country groupings, as at June 2020 (Source: Cable UK)

Among the countries with the fastest Internet download speeds and in addition to Aruba, were the Cayman Islands, with an average download speed of 57.96 Mbps, and Barbados, with 56.90 Mbps. At the other end of the spectrum, and in addition to Cuba, were Suriname, with an average download speed of 4.42 Mbps, and Guyana, 4.43 Mbps. Belize’s average is not too bad, just behind Jamaica. The maximum residential internet offered by Diginet Belize is 150Mbps down and 75Mbps up for U.S. $99.99

Above-average system in Central America; trunk network based primarily on fibre optic underground network backed up by microwave radio relay

Domestic: fixed-line teledensity of 10 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular teledensity roughly 55 per 100 persons

Belize International: country code – 501; landing point for the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) fiber-optic telecommunications submarine cable that provides links to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and the US; satellite earth station – 8 (Intelsat – 2, unknown – 6) (2008)