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Old 29-07-2015, 14:38   #1
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Bahamas in summer...& internet access options.

Hello,

We're thinking of putting together some time in the Bahamas/Abacos next summer and I was wondering if anyone had any advice/input/thoughts on the idea. We would be working part of the time and would need good phone and internet access...thus we're planning to be in the Abacos.

I know the phone situation is not a big deal there but how about the internet access options, anyone? Ideally, we would be able to pick up a WiFi source from our boat with a long range antenna that would be sufficient for online collaboration activities.

Any input or experienced advice would be welcomed and appreciated.
Thank you,
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Old 29-07-2015, 14:48   #2
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Re: Bahamas in summer...& internet access options.

Summer is high season in the Bahamas, so just follow the crowds! Not much different from summer in your location in SW Florida. I never make a decision to go/not go to the Bahamas based solely on the season, anytime is good and winter has its drawbacks too (like cold fronts).

Internet has been discussed to death. I find wifi to be extremely spotty in all marinas, not just in the Bahamas, even on the dock. With the caveat of speed, broadband seems to be the method of choice.

Pete
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Old 29-07-2015, 15:22   #3
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Re: Bahamas in summer...& internet access options.

Wow...OK, I thought winter was "high season". The main reason we're trying to go in summer (June/July) is because our two boys will be out of school and with one a Jr. in high school it's likely our last chance to do it as a family unit.

That being said...I'll search some more for the wifi discussions but I wasn't able to find too much specifically on the Abacos...or any specific "good sources". Maybe there just aren't any. I was assuming given that the Abacos is "more developed" that we'd have much better luck with internet access/speeds there than further south, certainly not everywhere in the Abacos but surely Hopetown and Marsh Harbor??

Thanks...
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Old 29-07-2015, 15:32   #4
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Re: Bahamas in summer...& internet access options.

Summer is not high season in the Bahamas for cruisers. It starts getting busy from mid December.

As for the internet your best bet is a cellular connection. Get an unlocked smart phone and sim card from BTC. You can do a monthly plan or pay as you go - $30 for 2 gigs of data.

You can save on the phone calls by getting folks to call you. Incoming is not charged to your minutes.
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Old 29-07-2015, 15:36   #5
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Re: Bahamas in summer...& internet access options.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrtucke View Post
Wow...OK, I thought winter was "high season". The main reason we're trying to go in summer (June/July) is because our two boys will be out of school and with one a Jr. in high school it's likely our last chance to do it as a family unit.

That being said...I'll search some more for the wifi discussions but I wasn't able to find too much specifically on the Abacos...or any specific "good sources". Maybe there just aren't any. I was assuming given that the Abacos is "more developed" that we'd have much better luck with internet access/speeds there than further south, certainly not everywhere in the Abacos but surely Hopetown and Marsh Harbor??

Thanks...

I am more familiar with the Exumas but sure it's similar. Not much free wifi anymore, the pay services tend to be super slow and expensive. Yes there is wifi in the Exumas. Best to go with a BTC SIM card, an initial $10 or so for the card and then $30 per 2 gigs thereafter. You can be almost anywhere you want in the Bahamas and use the cell towers.


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Old 29-07-2015, 15:38   #6
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Re: Bahamas in summer...& internet access options.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
Summer is not high season in the Bahamas for cruisers. It starts getting busy from mid December.

As for the internet your best bet is a cellular connection. Get an unlocked smart phone and sim card from BTC. You can do a monthly plan or pay as you go - $30 for 2 gigs of data.

You can save on the phone calls by getting folks to call you. Incoming is not charged to your minutes.

Oops vasco was typing at the same time!


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Old 29-07-2015, 16:28   #7
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Re: Bahamas in summer...& internet access options.

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Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
Summer is not high season in the Bahamas for cruisers. It starts getting busy from mid December.
Didn't say anything about cruisers. It is high season for fisherman and other tourists.
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Old 29-07-2015, 16:32   #8
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Re: Bahamas in summer...& internet access options.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrtucke View Post
Wow...OK, I thought winter was "high season". The main reason we're trying to go in summer (June/July) is because our two boys will be out of school and with one a Jr. in high school it's likely our last chance to do it as a family unit.

That being said...I'll search some more for the wifi discussions but I wasn't able to find too much specifically on the Abacos...or any specific "good sources". Maybe there just aren't any. I was assuming given that the Abacos is "more developed" that we'd have much better luck with internet access/speeds there than further south, certainly not everywhere in the Abacos but surely Hopetown and Marsh Harbor??

Thanks...
Like I said, internet is spotty everywhere, Abacos, Nassau, Exumas, Bimini, (Miami, Cape Cod, Annapolis...). As as others have agreed, your best bet is broadband, because wifi is about the same speed and less widespread.

Pete
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Old 29-07-2015, 17:04   #9
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Re: Bahamas in summer...& internet access options.

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Originally Posted by pete33458 View Post
Didn't say anything about cruisers. It is high season for fisherman and other tourists.
It's very quiet in George Town mid June.

Free internet at Starbucks in Nassau, and at Lorraine's in Black Point. Free if you are spending money for coffee or food anyway.

No free wifi in the Bahamas. BUT....it's a great place to be.

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Old 30-07-2015, 05:12   #10
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Re: Bahamas in summer...& internet access options.

Thanks for the input everyone.

While I'm not wealthy, I'm not as concerned about cost (within reason) as I am real world speeds/services etc. It is sounding like BTC with a data plan might be best or a good way to augment whatever WiFi we can find.

Is anyone familiar with "Bahamas WiMax" as a hotspot provider? Real world SLA delivery and/or coverage areas? Can't seem to find much on the website.

Does anyone know what 3/4G/LTE (BTC) coverage is like outside of the Marsh Harbor/Hopetown area? Is it really comparable to US service levels?

Thanks again.
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Old 30-07-2015, 05:20   #11
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Re: Bahamas in summer...& internet access options.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrtucke View Post
Thanks for the input everyone.

While I'm not wealthy, I'm not as concerned about cost (within reason) as I am real world speeds/services etc. It is sounding like BTC with a data plan might be best or a good way to augment whatever WiFi we can find.

Is anyone familiar with "Bahamas WiMax" as a hotspot provider? Real world SLA delivery and/or coverage areas? Can't seem to find much on the website.

Does anyone know what 3/4G/LTE (BTC) coverage is like outside of the Marsh Harbor/Hopetown area? Is it really comparable to US service levels?

Thanks again.
I'm not too up on speeds but you should be aware that it is not unusual for BTC to be down as far as the internet goes. Once last season the whole Bahamas was down for much of the day.
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Old 30-07-2015, 07:51   #12
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Re: Bahamas in summer...& internet access options.

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Originally Posted by chrtucke View Post
Is anyone familiar with "Bahamas WiMax" as a hotspot provider?
I used them for a week while stuck in Georgetown for weather. They had several APs with good signal strength across at Sand Dollar Beach with a Mikrotik hanging from the spreaders. No complaints other than $35/week.

We returned from the southern Bahamas via the Abacos and Bahamas WiMax APs were all over the place in the Abacos.

There are some open APs still around. Green Turtle, Eluthera Airport, and an open AP at Salt Pond provided by the tourism ministry are a few.
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Old 30-07-2015, 09:37   #13
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Re: Bahamas in summer...& internet access options.

Internet access sucks at any price. Email, fine, stream whatever forget it.
IF you are going to move around and OUT of the Bahamas the SPOT Satellite phone is wayyy cheaper in the end. Rather than buying a new SIM card and minutes in a different country i.e Turks, Caicos and farther South. And YES get the slickest range extender for the wifi you can. Many brands all fine. I did my on but that's not for everyone.

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Old 30-07-2015, 11:09   #14
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Re: Bahamas in summer...& internet access options.

Check this info. It is very detailed for cell and wifi usage in the Abacos.
IPYOA.com/Forum: Bahamas 3G Cell Service BTCBahamas.com GREAT (1/1)
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Old 30-07-2015, 11:23   #15
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Re: Bahamas in summer...& internet access options.

chrtucke,
I'm usually VERY hesitant to recommend a sat comm connection when a terrestrial system (cellular or Wi-Fi) will work...
And, you should equip your boat with an excellent external Wi-Fi system (such as one from Island Time PC, who I highly recommend!!!), and getting a batelco phone / sim card, and/or dongle, etc. is also a good idea, and might do you well....BUT...

But, with your application (necessity of good internet and phone connectivity), a sat comm system would actually fit your described needs very well...
{understand that I LOVE the Bahamas, I started cruising there as a kid in 1965....and have loved the Bahamian people and their wonderful islands ever since!!!
but, you should remember most locations have a "third-world" approach to hi-tech....yes, BTC is a good company and serves the people of this 700+ island archipelago, quite well.....but if you need reliable connectivity for business use, sat comm is the way to go...}
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrtucke View Post
We're thinking of putting together some time in the Bahamas/Abacos next summer
....We would be working part of the time and would need good phone and internet access...
And, since you wrote that you're not as concerned about cost, as you are about "real world speeds/services"....a sat comm system is what you probably should consider....
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrtucke View Post
Thanks for the input everyone.

While I'm not wealthy, I'm not as concerned about cost (within reason) as I am real world speeds/services etc. It is sounding like BTC with a data plan might be best or a good way to augment whatever WiFi we can find.
So, while a batelco data plan, and a good ext. Wi-Fi system might get you thru....be aware it isn't going to be 100% reliable, and might not be good enough for whatever "work" you need to do...(especially the lower/sporadic speeds)

And, here is where a good sat comm system would shine!!!
NO, you don't have to spend $5K - $10K...as you will probably not need 24/7 access while at sea / underway at sea....
BGAN systems sell for about $1400 - $2500....and rent for about $35/wk....
PLUS data / airtime charges, of course...

So, if access in port / at anchor (or even sailing/motoring in the relatively calm summer waters of the Bahamas), is what you desire, then an INMARSAT BGAN system would do you quite well....
You can get ones that are portable, and are dirt-simple to plug-in and use....or you can permanently mount one (or semi-permanently)....your choice...

Those that will tell you that they don't work on boats, are full of it....they do....I've used one on deck at anchor....and have read reports here of one sailor who used his motoring up the US west coast, and another motoring thru the Bahamas....
YES, you need to point the antenna (a flat plate), to within +/- 10-15 degrees, so if you swing a lot at anchor, try an "anchor riding sail", or repoint as you swing....

You may also wish to look into RENTING a BGAN system, if you don't want to buy one for a one-season cruise...

Have a look at the system....492Kb data and voice circuits....24/7....
BGAN - Inmarsat

Read over the info on the various INMARSAT pages, BEFORE you go looking at vendors pages, or "go shopping"....you'll learn a LOT...



https://www.satellitephonestore.com/.../portable-bgan

BGAN

BGAN Airtime and Prepaid Cards

BGAN Service Rate Pricing from Ground Control




Please understand, I'm NOT trying to talk you into a sat comm system....just wanted you to know that IF you need reliable connectivity and "speed/service", and cost isn't as important as these criteria (as you write), then a sat comm system is what will work for you in the Bahamas...anything else might or might not...


Fair winds...

John
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