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Old 05-09-2018, 07:38   #1
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2018 Bahamas Cell Phone options

I am planning a three month Bahamas cruise starting November 2018. Are there any recent experiences and recommendations for BTC or Aliv? I am hoping to buy a SIM card for my Verizon iPhone. Thanks.
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Old 05-09-2018, 08:55   #2
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Re: 2018 Bahamas Cell Phone options

BTC has better coverage. Aliv has less expensive large data options. We use BTC, where data is $35 for 15gb. Aliv is $75 for about 300gb. So on Aliv you theoretically could stream video, if the download speed was fast enough. That is a big if. The Bahamas is a big place with not very many people. If you stay in the Abacos, Aliv is fine. If you are in the Exumas, BTC is the choice, except Georgetown where Aliv works. Aliv works great on New Providence, but cruisers don't spend time there. So, like most things, it depends.
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Old 05-09-2018, 09:53   #3
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Re: 2018 Bahamas Cell Phone options

We had SIM cards mailed to us before we arrived through MrSimCard.com We found the resulting BTC coverage excellent in almost all places we went. And the option of online top up was nice to have. With cards from MrSimCard you have to be sure you read and follow their instructions exactly for activation before you arrive. We had a problem with one, and their tech support was great.

Aliv coverage was less consistent in most areas.

When you arrive in country, in some popular anchorages you'll find wifi coverage by Bahamas WiMax. That was sometimes very useful. Most marinas have wifi, but it's frequently, shall we say, a bit tedious.
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Old 05-09-2018, 10:44   #4
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Re: 2018 Bahamas Cell Phone options

Just got back from 10 weeks in the Abacos. We had lots of problems with wifi coverage and everyone complained about poor speed and dropped connections. Got the Aliv hotspot and it works great, fast enough to watch Netflix and download podcasts and coverage from Foxtown to Little Harbor. Highly recomended.
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Old 05-09-2018, 11:13   #5
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Re: 2018 Bahamas Cell Phone options

Good advice above.

We have an old Iphone 5S that we use for the BTC Sim chip. It gives us a Bahamas phone number which is handy calling marinas, taxis and restaurants. Coverage is good in most islands. Speeds are getting much better every year. We never used wifi last year in the Bahamas because it's always slower than the phone. In a harbor with people living ashore the signal is usually strong enough to stream video - Red Sox spring training games


We use the hotspot feature that allows three devices to connect to the Iphone. So we use our Verizon Iphones, Ipads and laptop by connecting to the phone with the BTC sim.

A good way to improve the signal is to tape your BTC phone under the bimini to keep it dry and run a cord up to it plugged into a cigarette outlet. Will add 1 or 2 bars to the signal.

As mentioned the $35 for 15GB is cheaper than Verizon in the US. What we do is use a credit card to "top up" online. This puts money in your account. Then when you run out of data, you buy another 15GB using dialing "#" codes on the phone. Takes seconds.

Finally, it is incredibly easy to go to a local BTC for a new SIM when you first get to the Bahamas and check-in. Bimini and Great Harbor Cay have offices close to the checkin (and marinas). The SIM costs almost nothing ($5?) and they will install it in the phone for free and check that it works.

This year we've upgraded one of our Verizon phones so we have another spare. We'll use the old one as with an Aliv Sim for when their signal is better than BTC. You can also buy an old Iphone 5S for almost nothing on Ebay.

Oh, and the days of worrying about compatible or locked phones is mostly behind us. Every Iphone since the 5S works in the Bahamas. And any phone bought through Apple isn't locked. Finally, these days the carriers will unlock the phones on request automatically or a few months after service is started.
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Old 05-09-2018, 14:56   #6
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Re: 2018 Bahamas Cell Phone options

I was in the Bahamas last November and bought a SIM card from the BTC store for my Verizon phone and it did not work, after a day and a half of me and the BTC techs trying. I finally had to buy a $100 Samsung J1, it worked perfectly just about everywhere, I did lose data on some of the uninhabited outlying cays. I bought a prepay voice and data plan and refilled it once over the 3 months I was there. I used the J1 as a hotspot and speeds were 4G LTE 90% of the time.


I kept the phone and will use it again next fall.


Hope that helps.
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Old 06-09-2018, 09:36   #7
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Re: 2018 Bahamas Cell Phone options

AT&T

Probably a little more expensive, fantastic coverage.

If you have their service I states it’s as easy as a phone call to add the Bahamas.
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Old 06-09-2018, 10:30   #8
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Re: 2018 Bahamas Cell Phone options

Not sure about the comment of “locked phones being behind us”. Maybe that applies if you have an extremely new phone. We bought a phone in the Bahamas to use there in the spring of 2017 (and it worked great through BTC - I agree with what everyone else said about that) but when we brought that phone (a Samsung J1 I think) and took it to the AT&T store to get a SIM card for the US, they told us the phone was locked - and that was in May of this year. And no, they would not unlock it for us. So don’t assume your phone is unlocked - check before you go and check if you buy one there.
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Old 07-09-2018, 07:18   #9
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Re: 2018 Bahamas Cell Phone options

I spent winter '16/'17 in the Bahamas (Nassau/Exumas). I bought a plan from Verizon that partners with BTC. Each day that I used the phone for calls or for data, I was charged $10/24hrs. If I didn't use the phone, there was no charge. BTC coverage in the Bahamas is much greater than it was 10 years ago. I was able to get service in Nassau, Highbourne Cay, Normans Cay (in good weather), and Staniel Cay. Your mileage may vary in Eleuthera, but you should get excellent coverage if you are in the Abacos. Everyone's service needs are different, but this plan from Verizon worked very well for me.
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Old 14-09-2018, 12:58   #10
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Re: 2018 Bahamas Cell Phone options

Has anyone had experience with T Mobile in the Abacos?
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Old 14-09-2018, 13:30   #11
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Re: 2018 Bahamas Cell Phone options

We used T mobile winter 17/18 in Abacos, Eleuthera and Exuma as far south as Warderick Wells. With 55Plus plan, I paid $50 per month ($5 discount for auto pay). Stateside I received unlimited calling, texting and 4G/LTE data. In Bahamas I received unlimited texting, unlimited data (drops to 3G per contract between T Mobile and BTC) and voice calls at $0.24 per minute. We supplemented our communications with a Coastal WiFi booster (worked great) and Garmin inReach Explorer for texting, emailing and route tracking. While the booster worked very well, the band width varied widely from marina to marina both stateside and in Bahamas. We are heading back to Bahamas in November and will be using same set up.
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Old 21-11-2018, 05:28   #12
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Re: 2018 Bahamas Cell Phone options

I’ve been in the Abacos for the past few weeks. November 2018. I walked to the ALIV store and bought a plan. Works great. I just put the free SIM card into my Verizon iPhone and it works as well as my home service. My phone is being used as a hot spot for everyone on board. Streaming Netflix etc at good speed so far. Plans vary from $10.00/week for a bit limited time to $140/month for virtually unlimited. I suggest making sure you have all your home passwords with you to access your home messages and texts etc. my carrier will only send new passwords as a text to my usa phone number.
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Old 21-11-2018, 07:30   #13
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Re: 2018 Bahamas Cell Phone options

If you have a SIM card for BTC from last year can you activate it when you arrive or do you have to get a new one?
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Old 21-11-2018, 07:40   #14
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Re: 2018 Bahamas Cell Phone options

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkleins View Post
If you have a SIM card for BTC from last year can you activate it when you arrive or do you have to get a new one?
Unless you kept it alive ($5 a month online) you'll have to get a new one.
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Old 21-11-2018, 08:06   #15
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Re: 2018 Bahamas Cell Phone options

Sprint has similar plan to T-mobile. Stateside we have 55 plus plan. When in Bahamas switches to Global Roaming. Uses BTC towers for connectivity. Free texting, unlimited 3G data, and voice calls $0.20 per minute. Have used the same Global Roaming plan on vacation in France, and Vietnam. You'll need to contact Sprint to tell them you want to use the plan (a one time selection on your account). When you land, just switch to enable global voice and data, on your phone settings.
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