I've been cruising the Bahamas this summer, leaving the boat in Nassau
. I plan to go back down later this month. In April before I left the US, I purchased an unlocked Samsung Galaxy
off Ebay. I went to a BTC office in Nassau
and spent $15 for a BTC sim card and $50 on data and talk minutes. This is a PREPAID plan. You will need to buy more data and talk as you go.
NOTE: Make sure you have the BTC people walk you through the set up process and have them show you how to check your minutes and data. The process is not obvious! Also install any phone
updates right there in the BTC shop (using their wifi). Make sure its all working before you leave.
Take notes, since their process for loading data and activating it is complicated!
The data costs $20/gig. Talk and text to Bahama numbers is cheap
but calling the states is like $1.50/min and I think $.50/text, but I'm not exactly sure. If you want to talk to someone in the states, text them and have them call you back. If your caller has an international calling plan or a paid Skype account, they can your Bahama number very cheaply.
Usually when you buy data or talk, its via a scratch off card which you need to enter into the phone. Once you buy data, you need to go through an extra step of activating it
. (Basically working through a menu after calling some number). Again, the process is a bit cryptic, so get the BTC people to show you exactly what to do. Note the data, once activated, only lasts 1 month. So only activate what you plan to use.
The BTC towers are marked on charts
and are similar in range to the US (like 7 - 10 miles max). The big gap is between Highborne Cay to Staniel Cay. Waderwick Wells does have wifi
(100Mbyte for $15) Sometimes the phone worked better away from Nassau, due to fewer users maybe. It worked best at the southern end of Andros.
Sansung phone I bought can be tethered as a hotspot, but realize dataspeeds are slow. No Skype, streaming video etc. It's good for email
or to check websites. Also realize that if you have multiple iPads and other phones or computers
trying to pull data through the BTC phone hotspot, everything slows to a crawl or nothing. Also, we found the tethered iPads and iPhones were trying to grab data for updates automatically which slowed everything down. Now we try to tether just one device at a time.
So I would say the BTC phone is much cheaper than using ATT at $2.50/min talk $.50/text and $$$$ for data. One of my crew fired up his iPhone
to check some email
and make some calls during the last 2 days he was on board. He ended up with a $600+ ATT bill.