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  1. #1
    fossildoc is offline Moderator 518 points
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    Logistics for new students - part VII: Internet

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    Internet
    --------
    This is about the school's wi-fi hotspot, cable modem, and Skype, a voice-over-Internet service. A response to the original version of this post indicated that BTL (Belize Telephone Ltd.) blocks Skype on their DSL service; if I am able to confirm this, I'll amend the post. Meanwhile, consider it "probable" and act with appropriate caution.

    Skype is important in planning for your communications with folks back home, so I'll concentrate on that. It works perfectly over cable modem. To get cable modem (a service of Coral Cablevision), not to be confused with DSL (a service of Belize Telephone Ltd.), go to the Cablevision office a few doors down from Dr. Giovinanni's clinic on Middle Street; any local will direct you do it. The young woman at the front desk is Lilliana; she is very helpful, but is misinformed about Skype. Cable modem comes in three speeds which are set from the central office: 64Kbs, 128Kbs, 256Kbs (in modem lingo, Kbs means kilobits per second). All speeds use the same wiring and physical modem, so you can change speed simply by calling the office after initial installation. Each has a different price. If you tell Lilliana that you're going to run Skype (see below), she will insist that you need 128Kbs, and if you protest, she will call an "engineer" who will affirm that you need it. Don't you believe it; when you use wi-fi at school, you'll see that your connection is 56Kbs, and Skype works well on that. I have 64Kbs cable modem service and use all three Skype services on it -- free Skype, Skype In, Sype Out -- without any problem. The total cost to get it going is $170BZ ($85US), which includes the first month's service. Thereafter you pay $46US per month, including tax. The faster speeds are substantially more expensive. Like everything else in San Pedro, you have to go to the office to pay your bill; you will get nothing in the maill.

    From within any school building or the space in between (the "quadrangle"), your wi-fi capable pc will readily detect and connect to a "hotspot", which means that you can access the Internet just as you would if you were plugged into something by a cable. The network will show as "linksys". It will not provide an IP address automatically; you will get the IP and DNS server settings when you get to the school. If you're not familiar with any of this, relax; a computer nerd will help you get set up.

    Once all the settings on your computer are right, use the Internet for whatever purpose you wish. One purpose you might consider is Skype, a voice-over-Internet service you can read about at www.skype.com. Here's the short form: There are three services: (1) Skype-to-Skype, (2) Skype In, (3) Skype Out. For all three, you need the free software you can download from their web site. There is no nonsense attached to this software; it runs cleanly and is readily uninstalled. Also for all three services you will need a speaker (the builtin ones on your pc are ok) and a microphone. Not all pc's have a builtin mic; mine does not, so I use a "USB headset" which is an operator-type headset with two earphones that mute the pc's speaker, and an adjustable microphone. It plugs into a USB port.

    (1) Skype-to-Skype means both you and the other party must have Skype software installed. You can talk to each other endlessly, no matter where you are, free.

    (2) Skype In service is when you have Skype software but the other party has only a regular landline and they want to call you. When you enroll for this service, Skype software will let you pick an "access number" somewhere in the world. That number will be exclusively for you for as long as you are a subscriber. Then, when someone wants to call you, they dial that access number and your computer rings if you're online; otherwise, the caller gets your voicemail which you can listen to the next time you log in. For example, I have relatives in Florida who call me frequently at school, so I selected a Florida access number which is a local call to them and therefore costs them nothing. Skype In service costs about $3.47 per month for each access number you want, if you pay for a year in advance. The duration of the calls is irrelevant.

    (3) Skype Out service is when you have Skype software but the other party has only a regular landline and you want to call them. You merely dial the number from your Skype control center display, and talk as you would with a traditional phone call. Skype Out service is charged per minute and varies depending on the destination country, but does not depend on where the caller is. The rates for all destination countries are on the Skype web site. For calls to the United States (from anywhere), it costs 2.4 cents (yes, $0.024) per minute. To enroll for Skype Out service, you must prepay 10 Euros at a time. Skype is denominated in Euros because it is based in Estonia. Therefore, rates may vary slightly with currency fluctuations.

    Next post: Getting around in San Pedro
    Last edited by fossildoc; 01-09-2006 at 10:20 PM.
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  2. #2
    md90's Avatar
    md90 is offline Senior Member
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    Skype is a great idea.. therefore BTL has blocked it.. unless things have changed since I left four days ago... I have Skype, and was trying to call from Belize, and it kept posting INVALID.. and my landlord was having the same problems. When I came back to the states, I called on Skype from here, and it went through without any problems.

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    donaldf is offline Newbie 510 points
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    Using Skype in Belize

    Hello,
    Belize internet provider BTL is blocking VoIP softwares such as Skype.
    The only solution that works is the "personalVPN" from Witopia. It costs 39,99$ per year and is really simple to use.

    Witopia personalVPN Homepage

    The personalVPN encrypte your connection to a US IP address, with this method Belize Telecom can't detect that you're using Skype or another VoIP software!
    In addition, it protects your computer against hackers!
    It works on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Macintosh OS X, and Linux.
    I hope we'll see you back soon on Skype...

    Click here to access the Witopia personalVPN Homepage

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