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Cellular service in the Bahamas

As you can see below, we’ve had queries and responses about cell phones and communications in the Bahamas.  At the end of the responses, you will see the latest information we have gathered from BTC.

“What is the current info on cell phone use in Bahamas? I currently have ?Verizon cell phone and Verizon Air Card. I am assuming the cell will be ?over $1/minute to use (And will not work in many areas)and the Air Card ?probably will not work.?Is there anything I should do or buy in the US, or should I get a Batelco ?Cell phone there? Do Batelco cell phones have free incoming calls??Lee Haefele”

“While I do not remember the exact pricing when we inquired into Batelco last year I found it to be unreasonable and never went with them at all. We used Skype to great success and spent under $30 all year. That included our own dedicated number and voice mail. Do not get me wrong it does not work all the time and is dependant upon a good Internet connection, but by paying attention to signal strength and periods when usage was lighter we were always able to complete the necessary calls. The one thing I would invest in is a good wifi antenna system. I did not do so before I left thinking I could find the parts in the Bahamas. This was a mistake. Research and buy what you need stateside. There are many options. Many friends had systems costing just a couple hundred that were simply out of this world compared to the basic USB amplifier box I found in Marsh Harbor. It helped, but not much.

Dave S/V Hullabaloo (Sadly stateside this year)?”

“Verizon coverage in Bahamas is poor.  AT&T is much better (thru an arrangement with BATELCO).  Typical AT&T charge is $1.99 per min (in one minute increments rounded up to the next min). Get a BATELCO card and its about $.99 per min, rounded up – - still very expensive but you can get coverage where you cannot get the Internet.   Skype is the best deal as long as you can get an Internet connection (and a wifi amp will help greatly in this regard)

Bill M/V Easy Riders (be there in Feb + Mar + ??)”

“I do not think your Verizon phone will work.  T-Mobile & ATT phones use the same band as Batelco.  The best solution is to buy a sim card in the Bahamas.  Mine is 3 years old but only cost about $25.00 then.  The key is that you need an unlocked cell phone.  Buy that before you come.  Phones in the Bahamas are very expensive ($100 and up).  The Batelco service is good with towers on most islands.  Calling the US is about 40% of the cost of using a US phone.  Calling within the Bahamas is cheap.

Cam  “Double-Wide”

Here’s the latest information that we have from BTC (formerly known as BaTelCo).

For cellular phone use in the Bahamas, you have two choices:

1)    When you come to the Bahamas, buy a phone from BTC or a local dealer who sells them. OR

2)    Bring with you to the Bahamas an unlocked GSM phone and purchase a SIM card (from BTC or other dealers) and also buy Cybercell Prepaid Wireless Cards for your minutes.

Calls to U.S. are 80 cents/min day (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and 64 cents/min evening.  Calling within the Bahamas cell to cell is 33 cents/min day and 17 cents/min evening; cell to Bahamas land line 51 cents/min day and 35 cents/min evening.  If you receive a call from the U.S. on your cell phone, you pay only airtime.

We understand that, if you purchase an unlocked aircard before you go to the Bahamas, you can subscribe with a monthly fee with a contract and get pretty good cellular service for internet as well in certain places. You will have to get a SIM card when you get to the Bahamas and they are available in Nassau.  We are not sure what other places have them. (If any of our subscribers have more specific information on this unlocked aircard, we’d appreciate details—what companies support this? How much does it cost? What is the contract period? What is the monthly fee?)

10 Responses to Cellular service in the Bahamas

  • sara says:

    In Bimini, there is a new variety store called MalMart (rhymes with WalMart). Among other things, you can get a SIM card as well as Cybercell Prepaid Phone Cards. As of January 9, 2010, they report that their wifi will soon be up and running. Boaters can take their computers in to the very nice lounge and have a tea or coffee and snacks while checking email and internet.

  • sara says:

    If there is a Best Buy you can pick up a Sonim. These are unlocked world phones I have had one for a year and have been very pleased. They are pricey ($399) but excellent, fully water proof up to 3 meters, my battery routinely goes for two weeks without a charge and the phone can take more of a beating than anything else out there. They also have a 3 year unconditional warranty (except for loss of course). I will stop now and no I do not own stock in Sonim:-) I had previously beat to death three other phones and have just been very pleased.
    Hope this helps
    Dave
    SV Hullabaloo

    A number of years ago we picked up an unlocked phone on the internet for US$ 17 which has been working well for us ever since. It came with charger and 2 batteries. No way should you pay $400 or even $100. Steve & Jan Cornwell

  • cruisecrazy says:

    Can a SIM card be purchased at West End?

  • mvconfidence says:

    How do you know when a cellphone is “unlocked”?

  • kate says:

    Even though we have an unlocked GSM phone, we don’t use it as by far the best way to call anywhere is Skype from the laptop, and wifi signal is available almost anywhere, especially after investing about $100 in a wifi amplifier and marine antenna.

    Steve
    Mystique

  • grubin says:

    My experience with locked cell phones is that all phones purchased through a cell service carrier are locked to that service. However, by asking (demanding) that the service carrier provide you with the “unlock code” and instructions, you can change it to an unlocked phone. These typically sell better on EBay, and can use others SIM cards.

  • Kelly Lee says:

    What brand of Wi-fi Antenna/amplifier have you installed?

  • sara says:

    We are finding very successful antenna strength with our new Boatwifi antenna made by Michael Beacock. You can check out http://www.boatwifi.com. Click the link in the box on the right on the Bahamas Chatter Home Page. We are very pleased with the greater ability to connect to wifi. Monty and Sara Lewis

  • sailor bob says:

    What are other options for wifi amplifier and antenna manufacturers or sellers?

  • zydeco says:

    We would be very interested in hearing any information about using an aircard for internet access including which aircards are supported and costs for a data plan etc.

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