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Old 06-11-2008, 10:18   #1
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Cell Phones in the Bahamas

I am planning on cruising the Bahamas this winter and have purchased an unlocked cell phone to use in the local cell phone system. Does anyone have any recent knowledge of how extensive the cell phone coverage is in the Bahamas?

Thanks,

Don
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Old 06-11-2008, 13:37   #2
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Good cell coverage in the Bahamas. Where exactly are you going? You'll have to get a chip from Batelco, the worst telecom company in the western hemisphere.
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Old 06-11-2008, 13:47   #3
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Cell WILL cost you over a dollar a minute to the states. Suggest you get a skype account as wifi is everywhere too and you can call any phone from your PC for pennies a minute OR contact anyone with a PC for free.
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Old 06-11-2008, 13:52   #4
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Yeah, most of us are relying on Skype now. Wifi in Abacos is good. Exumas has a couple of spots, Staniel, Black Point and Georgetown. It's getting better every year. Nassau is pretty good but not many cruisers stay there for long. If you're going to rely on wifi get a good antenna.
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Old 07-11-2008, 05:25   #5
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I love Skype but it requires you have Internet access. Not much help from nice secluded anchorages or while underway.

If you have the right technology phone (Bahamas switching to GSM) then they can activate it for you. With prepaid minutes, calls in Bahamas are $0.40 to the US $0.51. Same as pay phone rates.

You can buy a cheap phone from BATELCO with prepaid minutes. About $90 for the phone. Then sell it to another cruiser when leaving or keep it for your next cruise.

Before jumping into this, do you REALLY need to be in touch all the time?

If you just want the cell phone in case you break down and need to order parts or something, you can carry your US phone and pay the roaming charges. I think our roaming minutes were about $2/min last year.

We normally put our US cell phones on vacation hold while we are out of the country and it save us quite a bit.

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Old 07-11-2008, 08:09   #6
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Good thoughts George. Another possibility if the out islands are in the plans is a globalstar sat phone with their unlimited talk plan for $39 a month. The catch is the unreliablity of connections...but it will work everywhere.
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Old 07-11-2008, 08:28   #7
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Last year we just got a prepaid minute sim card for our unlocked gsm phone. worked fine and was easy to do. made it easy to do local calls and still cheaper than roaming.
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Old 07-11-2008, 08:51   #8
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G... The catch is the unreliablity of connections...but it will work everywhere.
A massive decline in the reliability of Globalstar service was reported in 2007, and an independent analysis by Frost & Sullivan earlier in that year confirmed this.

Testing showed that while Iridium service offered a 95% - 98% success rate on making 3 minute calls, Globalstar service failed two calls out of every three.

In updated testing, Iridium's 2008 call success rate was 93 percent, while Globalstar's was 26.7 percent.

It should be noted that the “independent” testing & report(s) were commissioned by Iridium.

http://www.iridium.com/about/frostreport07.pdf

http://www.iridium.com/about/frostreport08.pdf
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Old 07-11-2008, 10:19   #9
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I did the Batelco sim card thingy. You can buy the chips on the internet along with minuttes to "charge" the chip. About $0.51 per minutte as noted above.

Also installed a cell phone "booster" and hooked it up to an antenna mounted on the stern rail. This gizzmo will in effect double your cell phone range. Without the booster, I get 8NM from shore, with the booster 16NM.

Never tried WiFi in the Bahamas.. ? Is there un-secured networks one can tap into, OR does it work via cell phones?

Also, how do ya call home using SKYPE? Need 2 different SKYPE accounts so as to call from on to another, OR can ya call from one computer to another using only one account? If so, how?
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Old 07-11-2008, 10:27   #10
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Never tried WiFi in the Bahamas.. ? Is there un-secured networks one can tap into, OR does it work via cell phones?

Also, how do ya call home using SKYPE? Need 2 different SKYPE accounts so as to call from on to another, OR can ya call from one computer to another using only one account? If so, how?

There are unsecured networks in Georgetown and a pay service. In Staniel it's free from the Yacht Club, in Black Point, Lorraine now has wifi. In Nassau unsecured plus Starbucks and a daily paid service (not too reliable). In Abacos extensive paid service (quite reliable) plus the odd unsecured spot.

As far as Skype goes you can call home phones or cell phones. 2 1/2 cents per minute. Just have to set up an account and give them 10 bucks or so. Skype to Skype is free. It's the same account. If you need to see your grandkids Skype has video too.
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Old 07-11-2008, 13:22   #11
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It's the same account
That is what puzzles me:You log in to your SKYPE account, then how do you call the same account? I have not seen any button that says "Call myself" or some such thing...If you did, your own lap-top may ring?
Still confused on that one.

(Been using Skype for years calling International phones and "other" computers, but never tried to call from my laptop to my home 'puter )

As for communicating in the Bahamas, I have been using SSB and the WLO radio station for phone patches, but it runs $3.00 per minutte, same as ATT roaming from the cell phone. Too expensive and that is why I did the local SIM card option with a booster, but also monitoring satphones and the various rate plans.

Trying to get away from phones, etc while on the boat, but wifey needs to talk to her sister and mother on a daily basis and it has cost up to $600.00 in the past using SSB and roaming....
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Old 07-11-2008, 13:41   #12
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CSY, Why would you want to call yourself? You can't call yourself on a cell or land line phone. Pick up your phone right now and try to call yourself to see what happens. If you want to call another computer you own I guess you will need two accounts.
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Old 07-11-2008, 14:11   #13
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With Skype just dial your home number and it'll go through. I don't think you can call from your laptop to your computer unless you establish another account for your computer. Easily enough done.
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Old 07-11-2008, 15:33   #14
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I don't think you can call from your laptop to your computer unless you establish another account for your computer. Easily enough done.
Well, that was my question as well, but you said:

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It's the same account.
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Old 07-11-2008, 15:36   #15
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CSY, Why would you want to call yourself? You can't call yourself on a cell or land line phone.
Well, because Vasco said I could do it..

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If you want to call another computer you own I guess you will need two accounts.
I thought so, but uh Vasco says no..
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