TeleGeography Logo

That’ll SMART: BTL cuts off rival’s external links

23 Nov 2009

Belize Telemedia Ltd (BTL) announced on 20 November that it will terminate the circuits that carry the outgoing international voice calls of its sole rival SpeedNet (SMART), as well as terminating network roaming facilities currently provided by the incumbent to the smaller cellco, reports Belizean newspaper Amandala. The recently re-nationalised former telecoms monopoly said that the decision was made to remove wholesale agreements signed by the two companies in 2004, which it said were unfavourable to BTL and were a product of the previous situation wherein companies controlled by British billionaire Michael Ashcroft had an interest in both operators. Because of the agreements, SMART’s international calls are generally cheaper than BTL’s. SMART is thought to be part-owned by the family of the leader of the opposition People’s United Party, the Bricenos, but majority controlled by several associated companies of Lord Ashcroft – the party’s chief financier. ‘BTL will not continue to subsidise SMART and its foreign interest,’ a release from BTL said, adding that it expected its rival to renegotiate new wholesale agreements to restore services. SpeedNet responded by calling on the country’s regulatory authorities to intervene by instructing BTL to refrain from terminating the circuits until alternative arrangements have been put in place. BTL has also served SMART notice regarding a cellular tower lease agreement, with the government-appointed board contending that the rates are way too low; however, SMART has argued that given the amount of business it does with BTL and what it pays for similar services from other companies in Belize, the rate is fair. BTL argued that it continues to subsidise SMART ‘through discriminatory and unfair pricing agreements for the use of BTL’s infrastructure.’

In another local publication,, Prime Minister Dean Barrow was quoted as fully supporting the telco’s actions, saying: ‘Telemedia has been nationalised by the Government of Belize; compensation [will] have to be paid to the previous owners. That compensation must clearly come from two sources, from the profits that Telemedia will make while it is exclusively in government hands and from the revenue derived from the sale of shares when [the] government attempts to re-privatise Telemedia. Anything that Telemedia has to do to put right a situation in which SMART is unfairly affecting Telemedia’s profitability and viability must be done.’

GlobalComms Database

Want more? Peruse the GlobalComms Database—the most complete source of intel about mobile, fixed broadband, and fixed voice markets.


TeleGeography is the definitive source for telecom news, numbers, and analysis. Explore the full research catalog.