On June 2, 2023, I finally got my own internet connection. This was one of my biggest priorities upon arriving at my home on November 25, 2022. The experience to get internet to my house was nothing like I could have imagined or believed. And the fact that this connection is the most important aspect of my ability to continue living in Belize. The daily stress of this unanswered question of whether I can actually get an internet signal to my house. This question lingered daily for 18 months and the total incompetence and lack of communication of the person that “helped” me finally get internet over the last 7.5 months had me question my own sanity. This is the story.
There are two main internet providers in the country with DigiCell being the main country-wide provider.
Dec 4, 2021 – On my first visit to DigiCell in Belize City – I was informed that they were out of equipment (due to Covid-19 shipping issues).
Dec 21, 2021 – My second visit to DigiCell in Belize City. Still No equipment.
Dec 30, 2021 – My third visit – I was now told internet service was not possible in my particular area. Later that day a local in the village advised me to go to the Ladyville office as the installations for our area are sent through that office.
Jan 10, 2022 – My first visit to the Ladyville office. I am informed that they are still out of equipment but that my connection would be possible. They take my contact information down. Things sound and feel promising.
April 27, 2022 – My second visit to the Ladyville office for DigiCell. There is still no news on equipment or a connection. Not even an estimated timeline. I am shown that I am still on the wait list.
At some point in the later part of the summer I went back to Ladyville. They informed me that they had equipment now but now had to update their systems in my area before they took on any new clients. And the guy showed me my name and phone number on the list of people to contact when this would be complete. I never ever heard from them, nor did I ever go back.
There was always an internet company in the village I never bothered to visit them. A lot of their clients had their radios mounted on poles stuck up in trees. It seemed very Mickey Mouse to me. Someone in the village encouraged me to see if they could help me. This company would ultimately become my provider, but they definitely sent me to hell and back to get my connection.
Oct 20, 2022 – On my first visit I was informed that in the next 2 weeks they were upgrading their system in a way that they could now service me with the internet. It was hard to believe that I might actually have an internet connection in 2-3 weeks. And I felt good about the fact that if I had walked into their office 6 months ago would not have been helpful.
Nov 2, 2022 – Hurricane Lisa hits the country and many of the internet companies’ clients’ radios are destroyed. That is what happens when you try installing the radio in a tree.
Nov 30, 2022 – The main tower upgrade is now hopefully rescheduled in about 2 more weeks. But they are now also out of equipment due to replacing existing client equipment damaged from the hurricane.
Jan 25, 2023 – The provider shows up to inspect my house and location.
Feb 6, 2023 – Walking home down my road, I got a call from the internet provider. They wanted to make sure that I was home so they could install my internet. After 14.5 months I was not holding my breath but, hopefully. Anyways they came down my road and they worked over 3 hours trying to make a connection to 1 of 3 of their towers in the surrounding villages but right before dark they had to call it a day. They tried multiple options and directions. But no connection.
The new plan is they are going to raise the Isabella Bank tower higher tomorrow so it can send a single in my direction. And hopefully, they will have enough time in the day to finish my installation.
Feb 11, 2023 – The internet guys showed up late this afternoon. Apparently, they raised the tower in Isabella Bank by 20 feet to help with a connection. In the end, they couldn’t get a connection from any tower. They now have to reconsider options. I probably won’t see them again until mid-next week.
March 21, 2023 – After 38 very frustrating days of no communication or updates I told to expect technicians to show up this morning. I called the provider at 11 AM inquiring about their whereabouts. I was told they were leaving in a few minutes. They arrived at 2 PM. Previously I had been told that because of the difficulty and height of my connection, they need specialized technicians to work on my connection. You can imagine my surprise when it was Jamie from across the river who shows up! It took 38 days for them to send arguably my closest neighbor. The kid that lives less than 1,000 ft from me. The internet office is like 5 miles away! After failed attempts, they left to realign the Isabella Bank tower to line up with my radio dish. They said they were coming right back but of course, they never did.
March 25, 2023 – You can imagine my shock when the internet guys showed up. It turns out this was their last attempt to get a connection. Which they couldn’t make. I’m screwed. They say my only option is to put my own tower up. More work, more money and more wait time for a connection. I first walked into their office on October 20!!! After they left, I started digging the first footing for the tower.
March 29, 2023 – In the afternoon I went to the providers office trying to get the answers about getting a tower I was promised to receive Saturday evening. They called Jonny Boy (name changed)(who seems to be the company manager???) on speaker phone and I freaked out on him because he puts every single customer in front of me and I am absolutely sick and tired of waiting forever to get any communication, answers or anything done. In the evening he messaged me almost everything I needed to know about getting a tower and the necessary materials. He said that he found a 60 ft tower for me for $500 USD.
April 6, 2023 – A “used” 60 ft internet tower is delivered.
A used 60ft internet tower
April 13, 2023 – While waiting for the day that the internet tower is to be installed, I realized that the tower needs to be painted before it’s installed. After all, how do I paint a 60ft tower after it’s installed?
Painting the tower to match my greenhouse and house deck
April 21, 2023 – I made another decision. The other week a guy that I hire to help me on certain projects noticed that the section of the internet tower the internet guys want to use as the bottom base is actually the top piece of the old tower. By using this top section as a base now technically the tower would be installed upside-down. This will cause the tower to rust more quickly when it rains. I figure by the time this tower is up it will have cost me over $1,000 USD for everything. That’s too much money to allow something to rot away prematurely when there is a way to fix it even if it temporarily delays the installation. The decision pisses me off but I feel better for it. But I am even more pissed that Jonny Boy thought that he could get away with installing my tower improperly to begin with.
May 6, 2023 – For 5 days I have been waiting for the internet guy to show up with my guide wire platforms and bottom platform so I can finally pour cement for my footing. Every day Jonny Boy never showed up and said he would come the next day. He finally showed up. I thought finally, I can pour concrete footing on Monday. Until I realized that there was no main tower platform! I frickin lost it. What good is anything without a main tower platform??? I am at a complete loss of words. How in the world did this become my life? The headaches of getting an internet connection and dealing with this company are completely beyond human understanding or comprehension. He tells me that he doesn’t have one yet. When was he going to tell me that? That is when he told me that the company has already washed its hands of this job and everything that is been done had been on his time. I am guessing it’s his way of saying that I better watch my attitude. Jonny Boy may be trying to help me but that doesn’t make him competent. His incompetence has made my life a living hell. Six MONTHS now I have been waiting for this company to hook my internet up. I had him deliver a section of the tower to a local in the village to build me a tower platform.
May 11, 2023 – My internet tower platform is completed.
May 15, 2023 – Three helpers and a portable cement mixer arrive. We mix 9 bags of cement for the main tower form and 3 guide wire forms.
Cement forms poured
May 16, 2023 – Via a phone call I let Jonny Boy know the tower will be ready for assembly this Saturday as his tower assembly guy only works Saturday.
May 17, 2023 – The same guy that built my bottom base made a modification to the top section of the internet tower to accommodate a steel post to raise the radio higher than the tower.
May 19, 2023 – The top section is delivered. The tower is finally officially ready for installation. I send a confirmation text to Jonny Boy about tomorrow’s installation.
May 20, 2023 – At 11 PM Saturday night approximately 12 hours after I expected my tower to be installed, I get a text message that the tower installer is not available until next Saturday. I am also told that the installer will charge between $250 – $300 USD. And that the usual fee is $1,000 USD.
I messaged Friday morning to confirm for Saturday morning. Saturday night at 11:10 PM I get a response.
May 22, 2023 – I reach out to a local in the village who installs towers. He offers to charge me $450 USD. Interesting that Jonny Boy told me that the usual price is $1,000 USD. A little bit of difference between those two numbers.
May 27, 2023 – Saturday morning when I am expecting the tower installer, I get a message that NOW the guy is not available until this Thursday.
The message I get during the hour I am expecting their arrival.
June 1, 2023 – The big day finally arrives, and these guys don’t arrive until 12:45 PM! A 60 ft tower needs to be installed and it gets dark at 6 PM here. The installer shows up with no tools and no safety belt equipment! They call Jamie to borrow a safety belt. We must wait. Jamie drops off a safety belt and then leaves. This installed got the first two sections installed and now he does not have the physical strength to get the third of six sections installed!!! I remove myself from the immediate area as my anger continues to grow since their late arrival. They call Jamie back. I should mention that Jamie is only a contract worker for the provider but the only guy that shows up with his equipment and is ready to work. They are able to get “most” of the tower installation complete. They run out of time to install all the tower section securing nuts and bolts and secure all the U-clamps to the guide wires. And they don’t have any of the grounding rods or wire for the tower!
I pay this idiot tower installer $300 USD as he now has to pay Jamie and I just want these people off my land without issue. Jamie and another guy are scheduled to arrive tomorrow to remove the radio off my house and install it to the tower for my connection.
June 2, 2023 – A provider employee and Jamie show up first thing in the morning to finish my connection. I am informed by Jamie that the tower installer only paid him $10 USD for all the work of installing my tower!!! I friggin lose my temper. I am so sick and tired of the mentality of these people. The tower installer shows up with no tools or equipment. Jamie has all the equipment, does over half the work, works 60 ft off the ground and this guy only gives him $10 of the $300. I am beyond furious. These are for sure the most crooked people on the face of the earth. As a small token, I give Jamie $25 and he refuses and says this is not on me.
There are still a few complications to get a proper signal. They end up adding raising the radio almost 20 ft above the tower. Therefore, my radio stands almost 80 ft off the ground to make a connection with the Isabella Bank tower. At 1:26 PM local time, 225 days after walking into the provider’s office for the first time, 18 months after my first internet connection inquiry I have my own Internet connection.
Two and half hours after my connection Jonny Boy messages me informing me that a standard commission for helping me get a tower installed is $2,500 USD and he would like to be compensated! Excuse me!!! My initial response is I freak out. I never agreed to pay extra for anything and I am surely not going to pay for the level of incompetence that I had to endure.
But, after all this stress, grief, headache and lost sleep did I just lose my connection? It’s Jonny Boys’ brother’s company and Jonny Boy “seems” to be the manager. This is the second time since my arrival in Belize that I am attempted at being extorted out of money. (Yes, the second time.) I do not sleep very well that night at all.
June 3, 2023 – I hire Jamie privately to complete the tower installation. Jamie installs the missed nuts, bolts and U-clamps. Jamie assures me that I have nothing to worry about Jonny Boy and his position in the company. Jonny Boy has no pull or say in the company. Jamie will still have to return to ground the tower when I pick up a grounding rod and some wire when I go to Belize City next. I sleep better that night.
June 4, 2023 – Shortly after waking up Jonny Boy attempts to call me 5 times in a row. Before I am able to block him, he sends a message that he is on his way over. I suppose if there is going to be a confrontation it’s better to get it over with now. I wait 45 minutes for this showdown to happen. The office is only about 5 miles away. No one arrives.
No one shows
I bike up to the provider’s office. The front girl makes out my bill. I meet the owner’s wife who informs me that there will be an extra $50 USD charge to their standard installation fee as probably close to 130 ft of radio wire was required to connect the radio to the modem inside my house. Not to mention an extra pipe was required to raise the radio 20 ft above the tower. I say no problems. I pay my bill and am now a client in good standing with this company. For the first time, I can breathe a sigh of relief and confidence that after everything I have my Internet connection.
Tower and Installation Costs
The tower installation has cost me just over $2,000 USD to purchase and install. $800 for the tower including rust paint, the main platform and 3 guide wire platforms. $400 for the cement footings. About $350 for installation costs and about $450 for the rest for installation hardware.
The mandatory connection fee from the provider was $165 USD plus $50 USD extra, including security deposit ($45 USD) and $45 USD monthly rate for 5 MBS. I have since discovered that 5 MBS is not fast enough for my needs and will have to upgrade to 12 MBS at $77.50 USD per month.
As of posting this post I have not run into Jonny Boy nor am I worried about running into him. And all I have to say is what a daily battle from the very beginning! And welcome to Belize where every dream comes true.