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Old 15-08-2015, 22:31   #1
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Cell phone service in the Bahamas

What have you found to be the best options to stay connected with the USA while cruising the Bahamas? I currently have my AT&T cell phone plan and a SAT phone for emergencies. I was thinking about doing the smallest international plan for AT&T for the unlimited text and then get a prepaid Batelco SIM for an unlocked iPhone for calls in the Bahamas, and then take the laptop ashore when I need Internet. I do have to get some work done at least once a week that requires Internet, and I have to be available in some manner for work (texting works fine for his, I hope).

Please share any combinations that have worked for you or any advice you have. Thanks.

Cindy


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Old 16-08-2015, 07:38   #2
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Re: Cell phone service in the Bahamas

Hi Cindy - I'm surprised no one has responded to your question yet. Certainly there is more recent experience than I can offer. Although we did not do this on past Bahamas cruises, based on recent research we plan to get a Batelco sim for an unlocked smart phone and use it for both voice and data for future visits. I suggest you call a Batelco rep and get some official info - they were very helpful to us answering questions. Good luck.

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Old 16-08-2015, 08:11   #3
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Re: Cell phone service in the Bahamas

The prepaid service from Batelco can be data only or voice and data. They allow tethering if your device allows it.

It's not cheap, but seems to work most places.
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Old 16-08-2015, 08:37   #4
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Re: Cell phone service in the Bahamas

Don't count on going ashore for any high speed internet or any internet. Some areas have none.


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Old 16-08-2015, 08:44   #5
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Re: Cell phone service in the Bahamas

Either your in range of a bahamas wimax or out island internet, tower or you are not. You can google both to see their network of towers and their prices. Either one will be necessary for either a Bahamian cell service or internet. With the wifi we use viber " whats app" , kakao, or skype to talk to family n friends,, Do not count on free wifi on the boat from local businesses as most use very short range wifi. We use a delorme to email and text when out of bahama wimax range

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Old 16-08-2015, 08:47   #6
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Re: Cell phone service in the Bahamas

I will be surprised if an AT&T roaming call to the US will be less than a BTC prepaid call to the US. The BTC prepaid prime time rate to the US was just shy of $1/minute this past winter. We sent a number of text messages to the US and none were received. Don't count on text to the US working with a BTC sim card.
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Old 16-08-2015, 09:37   #7
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Re: Cell phone service in the Bahamas

It really depends on how many calls, emails and date internet you will use, as well as where you will be going and the other options available there. Haging out in Georgtown for the winter, offers very different communication options than gunk holing uninhabited islands for weeks.

In the Abacos for example, I can find WiFi at almost all the towns, but even in the southern Abacos, I've been anchored in many places with no Wifi Signal. However I get a cell phone signal in all but a few cays.

Texting, last I was there was about 50 cents to send and a nickel or dime to receive, which can be an affordable option when all I need is basic communication. If a get a text, I can decide whether I need to get on the phone immediately or find wifi later, or just text a response.

One lesson I learned the hard way was to turn off all my data on my phone. Even email headers and the data used just to check for new email can add up, so I learned to just turn it on to check a couple times a day. Having a new specific email account that doesn't get so much mail is another way to reduce data costs, just check your other accounts when you get wifi.

In the Abacos, there are a couple carriers that have service near many of the towns, but I often would go to a bar or coffee shop (hope town). Many had free wifi for customers. It's a good excuse to have a couple over priced beers and still spend no more than you would for a service, but again, this is only an option when you are at towns.

I did one year buy a Bahamas phone (not smart phone) and got pre-paid minutes. That's still fairly expensive, but cheaper than using a state side plan if you will be making a lot of calls.

One time I took an unlocked iPhone, bought the chip and a pre-paid card and could never get it to work. I think that's because at the time iPhones had to be hooked up to a real computer to initiate once receiving a new sim card, so that may no longer be an issue, but in my case, I spent a fair bit on a sim card and minutes which I could never use. (I should note, that getting it unlocked was just a simple call to AT&T)

The good thing is there are options, so you just need figure out what makes the most sense for your situation. When I first cruised the Bahamas, there was no cell phone service or public wifi. The only way to communicate was going to a phone booth.

Lastly, I found an iPad very handy compared to a computer, as it was easier to take ashore and I could use it for many hours without a charge.
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Old 16-08-2015, 09:56   #8
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Re: Cell phone service in the Bahamas

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We sent a number of text messages to the US and none were received. Don't count on text to the US working with a BTC sim card.
Exactly why we like the delorme in reach. Unlimited text and email for 64 month

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Old 19-08-2015, 00:05   #9
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Re: Cell phone service in the Bahamas

Thank you for all the responses. I appreciate the input and will keep it all in mind as I research my options.


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Old 06-09-2015, 14:11   #10
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Re: Cell phone service in the Bahamas

For a tech-challenged cruiser headed to the Bahamas this winter, can anyone with an Android smartphone (mine is LG) on AT&T speak for the cheapest, easiest way to arrange for basic calls and text to US and calls within the Bahamas? -thx
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Old 06-09-2015, 15:10   #11
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Re: Cell phone service in the Bahamas

Bring an unblocked iPhone or Android to a BTC store in Nassau. They will set you up with a SIM card for Bahama service. It's much cheaper than the ATT international plan. 4G Data rates are only slightly higher than ATT in the U.S. Also if you want to talk to specific people in the U.S., have them add a $5 international calling plan to their phone. They can call your Bahama phone for pennies/minute. If you want to call them, text them first and have them call you.
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Old 08-09-2015, 11:17   #12
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Re: Cell phone service in the Bahamas

Great advice, thanks! The last place I want to go in the Bahamas is Nassau, but maybe I could get in & out of there briefly without having to defend myself.

Anyone else?
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Old 08-09-2015, 11:48   #13
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Re: Cell phone service in the Bahamas

" We sent a number of text messages to the US and none were received. "
FWIW, even domestically in the US, AT&T and Verizon both have taken 48 hours to deliver text messages, and lost some entirely when routine breakdowns occur on servers. If it has any importance, the other party MUST reply & confirm or you really cannot expect that a text message has reached them. You may want to gently but firmly remind them of that before you go.
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Old 08-09-2015, 11:57   #14
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Re: Cell phone service in the Bahamas

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Great advice, thanks! The last place I want to go in the Bahamas is Nassau, but maybe I could get in & out of there briefly without having to defend myself.

Anyone else?
No need to go to Nassau. Most all of the settlements have a Batelco store. Even little Duncan Town population about 100 way south on Ragged Island.
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Old 08-09-2015, 12:28   #15
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Re: Cell phone service in the Bahamas

I use the att plan. Expensive, but easy and people can still call/text your regular number. Calls to us are $.35 a minute and unlimited texts are free. The data is plenty for all the email you want, but only limited Web browsing. I go ashore for internet.
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