Belizean state-owned telecoms provider Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) has announced a 7% annual decline in net profit, which dropped to BZD19.6 million (USD9.83 million) in the twelve months to end-March 2014 – the fifth consecutive financial year in which the telco has reported a drop in its bottom line. According to domestic news source Amandala, BTL’s core telecoms revenue remained mostly flat in the period under review, at BZD136.2 million, mainly due to reduced usage from fixed line subscribers and a decrease in international long distance calls. International roaming revenues fell by 20% in FY2014, compared to a 5.8% decrease during the previous financial year.
In operational terms, BTL claims that it experienced ‘a solid year of development’, with 3,900 additional broadband customers by 31 March 2014, corresponding to an annual growth of 24%. The company however revealed that although mobile data revenues almost doubled over the past year due to substantial uptake of its 4G Data plans and increased usage, internet revenues have declined by 1.4% over the period under review, mainly due to price reductions and the doubling of internet speeds.
Meanwhile, Dean Barrow, Belize’s Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, has announced that he has signed a statutory instrument which puts internet services in the category of zero-rated items for the purposes of General Sales Tax (GST). Mr Barrow explained: ‘This will allow all internet service providers (ISPs) to charge even less; and in the case of BTL as of 1 October, customers will begin to get double the bandwidth for the same price.’