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Old 27-10-2011, 17:39   #1
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3G / 4G in the Bahamas

Hi there....

Planning a trip this winter to Bahamas.

I am looking for specific first-hand reports and knowledge regarding cellular (3G/4G) data coverage in the Bahamas, now (2011-2012).

I'd prefer to get recommendations for specific hardware requirements and data plan purchase information from cruisers who have done this successfully in the out islands.

I am particularly interested in locations outside of Nassau and Marsh Harbor.

I would rather not get responses like
"I heard that you can buy XYZ phone, put in a card, and log in...."

or
"You ought to be able to...",

or
"Verizon sales guy said it would work..." etc....

Specific first person experiences, please.

Thanks
Dave
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Old 27-10-2011, 18:20   #2
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Re: 3G/4G in the Bahamas

Skype with wifi works for me and a goggle number works well also. my I Phone stinks.. Call Bob at Marine PC's & WiFi by IslandTime PC he can set up or tell u how to set up a system where you can get connections for good distances..I have no connection with him except his stuff works. Most populated islands phone works but ATT bill isn't worth it I think I paid an additional 20 bucks a month to have the privledge of paying them 99 cents a minute to call the states..
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Old 27-10-2011, 18:25   #3
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Re: 3G/4G in the Bahamas

capttman....

Thanks for the feedback.

To clarify:

What I need is an alternative to Wifi where Wifi is not available.

And I don't need voice at all, though I could always use Skype if I have data...

Thanks
Dave
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Old 27-10-2011, 18:48   #4
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Re: 3G/4G in the Bahamas

In the Abacos, I could get a cell signal and download data with my Iphone at West End (Also has wifi), and Walkers down through Double Breasted. (via the Grand Cays Tower). I could not get a signal at Strangers, or the Carter's Cay group. I think I could on the south side of the Fish Cays, but not on the north side of them. I couldn't at Moraine or Umbrella. I don't think I was ever unable to get a signal anywhere between Powell and Little Harbour. (I think I could at some locations at Allan's-Pensalcola but not others, but am not sure about that.)

Out Island Internet covers much of the area between Green Turtle and Little Harbour, but I was unable to get it at a few locations such as when anchored off Snake Cay.

I was able to get WiFi at bars or coffee houses as a customer with no specific internet fee at: Fox Town, Green Turtle, Marsh Harbour and Hope Town.

(The above is based on experiences between January 2011 and June 2011)

On Eleuthera, (2010) I'm fairly sure I got a signal at Gouvenor's Harbour and Rock Sound, and in the Exumas at Staniel, near Rolleville and of course Georgetown. I know I did at some other locations as well, but don't recall for sure where.
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Old 28-10-2011, 08:26   #5
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Re: 3G/4G in the Bahamas

I can't remember NOT having a signal from Nassau across the Yellow Banks and down to Georgetown. I don't remember where it was 3G and where it was EDGE.

I used wifi much more than the phone.

I carried an AT&T iPhone w/ international roaming and a Motorola Razr (the old quad band one) with a Batelco SIM.
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Old 29-10-2011, 15:51   #6
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Re: 3G/4G in the Bahamas

The wife has a kindle, it had either 3g or 4 g . Anyway it connects to the Batelco system. There is an agreement that while out of the USA you can use the internet connection for free. Read the news, ect. Worked very well from Feb to May of this year. Anyway since she had no TV she loved being able to keep up on current events, at no cost to us.
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Old 31-10-2011, 11:56   #7
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Re: 3G/4G in the Bahamas

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Originally Posted by Auspicious View Post
I can't remember NOT having a signal from Nassau across the Yellow Banks and down to Georgetown. I don't remember where it was 3G and where it was EDGE.

I used wifi much more than the phone.

I carried an AT&T iPhone w/ international roaming and a Motorola Razr (the old quad band one) with a Batelco SIM.

Dave thanks again for letting me pick your brain on saturday. Regarding usng the AT&T iPhone in the bahamas wont that get pretty expensive if you are roaming internationally? Is Baltelco a local carrier that you just get a SIM card from? Guessing you will still pay roaming/intl. charges to call the US right?
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Old 31-10-2011, 12:32   #8
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Re: 3G/4G in the Bahamas

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Originally Posted by SV Demeter View Post
Dave thanks again for letting me pick your brain on saturday. Regarding usng the AT&T iPhone in the bahamas wont that get pretty expensive if you are roaming internationally? Is Baltelco a local carrier that you just get a SIM card from? Guessing you will still pay roaming/intl. charges to call the US right?
My pleasure.

I carried an AT&T iPhone w/ international roaming. I used it with wifi for portable e-mail. I turned the phone on once a day to check for voicemail. I also have a quad-band Razr with a Batelco SIM. I'm a long-term AT&T subscriber. Perhaps that is why AT&T gave me (free) the unlock code for my old Razr to use off AT&T networks.

For us, the Razr/Batelco was what we used 99% of the time. If Janet and I did have to split up we could each have a phone and reach each other if needed.

Does that help?
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Old 31-10-2011, 12:40   #9
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Re: 3G/4G in the Bahamas

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Originally Posted by Auspicious View Post
My pleasure.

I carried an AT&T iPhone w/ international roaming. I used it with wifi for portable e-mail. I turned the phone on once a day to check for voicemail. I also have a quad-band Razr with a Batelco SIM. I'm a long-term AT&T subscriber. Perhaps that is why AT&T gave me (free) the unlock code for my old Razr to use off AT&T networks.

For us, the Razr/Batelco was what we used 99% of the time. If Janet and I did have to split up we could each have a phone and reach each other if needed.

Does that help?

I think I get it. Using the iPhone strictly for wifi would not cost extra. Thats what I have done in the BVI. Turning on the Intl roaming to check voice mail would incur some of the fees though. If I understand correctly though using the Batelco SIM card allowed you to effectively have a "local" phone so that local calls withing the Bahamas or Batelco network would be affordable and if someone from the US were to call that phone you would not pick up additional call costs? But if you were to call the US using the Batelco SIM card phone you would incur intl. fees much like using the iPhone in Intl. Roaming no?
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Old 31-10-2011, 12:43   #10
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Re: 3G/4G in the Bahamas

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Originally Posted by SV Demeter View Post
I think I get it. Using the iPhone strictly for wifi would not cost extra. Thats what I have done in the BVI. Turning on the Intl roaming to check voice mail would incur some of the fees though. If I understand correctly though using the Batelco SIM card allowed you to effectively have a "local" phone so that local calls withing the Bahamas or Batelco network would be affordable and if someone from the US were to call that phone you would not pick up additional call costs? But if you were to call the US using the Batelco SIM card phone you would incur intl. fees much like using the iPhone in Intl. Roaming no?
I wasn't clear.

Outside the US I keep the iPhone in airplane mode with wifi turned back on. International roaming doesn't incur any additional cost unless I use it.

Once a day I turn airplane mode off and check for messages. I leave data romaing off.

The Batelco SIM goes in a second quad-band GSM phone. I can get calls, voicemail, and texts on that phone on a Bahamas number. I use the same approach throughout the Caribbean. I have a collection of old SIMs with various numbers. I use e-mail to keep people I need to hear from advised of the current number.
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Old 31-10-2011, 12:48   #11
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Re: 3G/4G in the Bahamas

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I wasn't clear.

Outside the US I keep the iPhone in airplane mode with wifi turned back on. International roaming doesn't incur any additional cost unless I use it.

Once a day I turn airplane mode off and check for messages. I leave data romaing off.

The Batelco SIM goes in a second quad-band GSM phone. I can get calls, voicemail, and texts on that phone on a Bahamas number. I use the same approach throughout the Caribbean. I have a collection of old SIMs with various numbers. I use e-mail to keep people I need to hear from advised of the current number.

So i guess you incur some international roaming fees checking voicemail but not what you would if you turned on data roaming. Then the phone would start downloading emails and txt etc. This way you only see voicemail internationally right?
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Old 31-10-2011, 12:53   #12
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Re: 3G/4G in the Bahamas

Right - I think I ran 2-3 USD / week on the iPhone checking mail once / day.
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Old 31-10-2011, 12:57   #13
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Re: 3G/4G in the Bahamas

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Right - I think I ran 2-3 USD / week on the iPhone checking mail once / day.

Wow thats pretty cheap. I guess I did not realize that you could check your voicemail internationally without having to turn the roaming on. Can you walk me through the settings? Do you just turn on cellular data an leave off data roaming?
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Old 31-10-2011, 13:02   #14
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Re: 3G/4G in the Bahamas

I don't turn any data on at all. I just use the old fashioned VM access (press and hold *) and punch in my access code. Check with your local AT&T store about access where visual voicemail isn't available.
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Old 07-11-2011, 15:51   #15
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Re: 3G/4G in the Bahamas

Unless I'm mistaken Bdbcat was specifically asking about DATA connections on Batelco. Not been this season, but as of last season there was NO 3G on the islands and certainly no 4G. Best you can expect is GPRS which they intalled to support their Blackberry offering.

So you might be able to manage to send / receive emails, but surfing could be a frustrating experience.

Just about any GSM based device should be able to fall back to GPRS and the signal coverage was pretty good even in the islands.

If you go equipped with say, an ATT SIM card, you should be able to roam,. but might find it expensive.

You can get a Batelco SIM with a fairly reasonable daily data tariff, but it's quite a complicated process. You have to convince them that you have a Blackberry and supply the serial number plus a copy of your passport and fill in lots of forms. It's not clear if they lock this SIM to only that specific Blackberry's IMEI or if you can transfer it into another device once it's activated. Also you can only do this at the main office in Nassau.

In the end I just relied on WiFi and SSB packet radio.

Duncan
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