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Old 07-09-2014, 05:32   #1
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Bahamas SIM Card Questions

We are soon headed South and into the Bahamas with 2 unlocked smartphones (AT&T) (Galaxy 4&5)and 2 laptops. We are planning on using Batelco sim card primarily for data (email & weather) etc., but we really don't understand some of the details. Both smartphones can function as hotspots. We plan to maintain the AT&T account at the same time. Are the incoming calls are transferred to Batelco, or do we need to use cell minutes to retrieve messages? We really don't want to buy 2 sim cards & data plans. Are there any features of the Galaxy 5 better suited for this than the G4?
Any advice greatly appreciated!

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Old 07-09-2014, 06:22   #2
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Re: Bahamas SIM Card Questions


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Old 07-09-2014, 07:58   #3
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Re: Bahamas SIM Card Questions

Not really sure I understand you question. With the btc cell card u will receive a bahamas number and you will need a data plan as well. I had trouble unlocking my galaxy 4. And ran up a $1400 phone bill as tmobile offered no international plan in the bahamas. You can just switch the cards to get your att messages
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Old 07-09-2014, 10:45   #4
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Re: Bahamas SIM Card Questions

Like motion30 says. Go to a Batelco office and they will get you set up for voice and data.

WARNING! If you arrive in the Bahamas with your ATT cell phone turned on (and you have a data plan) you will begin accumulating huge charges as soon as it finds a cell tower. Make sure you tell ATT before you leave the USA!
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Old 07-09-2014, 11:19   #5
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Re: Bahamas SIM Card Questions

Last year, a sim and prepaid data plan from Batelco did not allow tethering, hence, put it in the 3G/LTE iPad and no sharing with the laptop. Most coverage in the Exumas was 2G (gprs) service, slow, but worked. $15 for the sim and $20 for 1GB high speed, then unlimited at 2G speed (for a month). No worries about using up the high speed data limit, it simply wasn't available (unless you stay in Nassau).

I would suggest buying from a Batelco store directly vs. resellers. A friend got screwed with what appeared to be a 1 month prepaid service that expired 2 weeks into it because of 'billing period' issue. Never did figure that out.
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Old 07-09-2014, 13:08   #6
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Re: Bahamas SIM Card Questions

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.

The cheap 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.
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Old 07-09-2014, 13:24   #7
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Re: Bahamas SIM Card Questions

You can also sign up to the btc web site and pay for more minutes online with a credit card
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Old 07-09-2014, 14:00   #8
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Re: Bahamas SIM Card Questions

The good thing about BTC phones is that incoming does not count as far as minutes go. Also they often have sales on the prepaid data cards.
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Old 07-09-2014, 15:07   #9

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Re: Bahamas SIM Card Questions

" Are the incoming calls are transferred to Batelco"
Your AT&T phone number is actually tied to whatever phone the AT&T SIM card is present in. If you remove the SIM card from a phone, your AT&T calls will not be answered. They will go to voice mail (if you have that enabled) or they will go to a message that says "the caller is unavailable".
You can set up call forwarding (ask AT&T how) that will forward your calls to the Batelco phone number (you get a new and local phone number with the new SIM card) but you will pay airtime minutes plus any long distance fees for the call while it is being forwarded.
On the US market cell phones are only sold with the ability to support 1 SIM card at any time. There are models sold overseas and through third parties that can take 2 SIM cards at the same time, in which case both numbers are active on the same phone. But that still would leave your AT&T account roaming at overseas rates.

You might change your AT&T voicemail message to give people your Batelco direct number, once you get it, or just tell them to leave a message and that you'll be retrieving your messages every day or two. And then retrieve them from a VOIP phone, which should be no more than 2-3 cents per minute, even long distance.
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Old 07-09-2014, 15:20   #10
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Re: Bahamas SIM Card Questions

+1 on the pre-paid cards on sale. I bought 8 $30 cards this summer for $15 each at at Batelco store. Used two of them while there for two weeks this summer. Plan to use the rest this winter.

I never had a problem teathering last season. I always got the $30 2gig plan good for one month, may that is the only one that allows feathering. I believe the $20 1gig plan is for two weeks and the lower ones for 1 week.

I got myself Wilson car cellphone booster at The Source. I attach the antenna with a thin line to the flag flag line and hoist it as high as I can with the antenna cable going through an open window. The small internal antenna is stuck with velcro at the navstation. I place my cell phone right in front of the internal antenna and have teathering turned on. The biggest potential problem here is cross-talk between the two booster antennas. Normally these systems are used in a car with the metal roof in between to shield the antennas from each other. Make sure both antennas are radiating horizontal and your phone is next to the internal antenna to keep the outgoing power low, then it works without a problem.

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There are only very few and small areas where you do not get reception along the Exumas with this setup. I regularly use up my 2gig way before the 1 months time is up. The other trick is to reset your phone (switch to airplane mode and back) to get it out of 2G. It appears once the phone has dropped to 2G on the Batelco system it does not move back up to 3G. In over 80% of the cases doing this got me back to 3G and higher download speeds.

Good luck. See you around this winter.

Second Chance 42 on AIS. Currently Stocking Island.
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Old 08-09-2014, 12:59   #11
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Re: Bahamas SIM Card Questions

Many thanks to all for the responses and help. I know that my AT&T automatically roams at much higher charges, but if you call, they will sign you up, and backdate the plan to reduce. It appears that Bahamas is on an International plan different from Canada/Mexico. I think the cell booster is the way to go, it has worked for me at home and car.
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Old 08-09-2014, 17:19   #12
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Re: Bahamas SIM Card Questions

1affiah, Do not believe anything AT&T tells you about how easy and inexpensive their service is for the Bahamas, backdating or any international options for calling. The Bill will knock your socks off once you get it. Put the AT&T on hold and have the calls answered with a message to call the Bahamas number once you get it. All of the info you have already received here is all you will need to know. Chuck
Chesapeake Bay, ICW Hampton Roads To Key West, The Gulf Coast, The Bahamas

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Old 08-09-2014, 18:46   #13
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Re: Bahamas SIM Card Questions

ok a couple of things.
for batelco data to work on your phone you need to input the batelco APN. they will or should know this.
second, I recommend
you can buy a US number for $1.00 a month that you forward AT&T calls to (cheap). then, when you have a Batelco number, go online and re forward to the batelco number. you pay $.13 per minute for US calls to ring you.quality is great.
but AT & T phones have better coverage in Bahamas than Batelco. go figure...

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