Communications in the Bahamas

Communications in the Bahamas

Postby Batistick » Fri Mar 05, 2010 7:29 pm

Fall of 2010 we will be cruising the Bahamas. Where is there cellphone capabilities, ie for phone and computer connection? How far down island can you go before you loose connection. Lastly, but least important, I have a basic KVH TV system. How far into the Bahamas can I go before I loose my connection?

Thanks, Jim
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cell phones in the bahamas

Postby roger and anne howell » Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:39 pm

We are also headed south fall 2010. Suggest you look at the Seven Seas Cruising Association (ssca) website and search bahamas cell phones. It has been several years since we were there, but historically US cell phones don't connect, and if they do, the charge is exhoribitant. SSCA suggests using an unlocked international cell phone with a SIM card purchased in the Bahamas, but I am a technology Luddite and don't know what that means. When we were there, we simply purchased a BATELCO phone card and used it in a payphone with all the other cruisies. We also carry a SSB and have used WLO radio in Mobile to patch phone calls to the states, but again, expensive. I am going to experiment with Skype this trip, as WIFI coverage is apparently getting better. I have no idea about TV coverage, as we don't carry one. Have a good trip, and perhaps we'll see you there.
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Postby K Dowling » Sat Mar 06, 2010 12:32 pm

Additional information on two opportunities raised by Roger Howell.

Sim Cards & Locked Phones. A sim card is a small interchangable circuit board about the size of your thumb nail. It has your account information on it and may also store your contacts, etc. When your US company sells you that fancy new phone for pennies on the dollar, they "lock" it so that it only works with the sim card for your account. That way, you can't take your new phone to a different company. Phones can be unlocked by entering a code using the keypad. If your phone is locked, you will need an unlock code from your provider. My experience is that they will give it out for a good reason, such as foreign travel.

Once a phone is unlocked, you can find pre paid sim cards for local phone companies in almost every corner of the world. Just pop in the sim and start calling. The local calls are cheap and the long distance rates are usually lower than your roaming rates. Finally, you are not charged a roaming rate for inbound calls. Unlike your AT&T sim overseas, the inbound calls are usually free. You can top up the pre paid sims at many stores ar by calling in with a credit card number.

We do this all the time.

Second, Skype.
Skype ( is a free download that allows you to "call" other Skype users who are logged into their computers for free. You can pre pay for service to any telephone in 10 Euro (about $15) packets. International calls to/from Canada or the US cost pennies per minute, compared to a dollar or more depending on your cell phone calling plan.

When you have a strong Wi-Fi signal without a bandwidth hog downloading the latest season of Hell's Kitchen on the next boat, you will have a very good connection that you can use for endless calls back to your family. If your son/daughter downloads Skype, you can talk, or, even picture phone, for free. Skype, itself, uses very little bandwidth.

My experience is that with a good connection in a marina, I have not had a problem with bandwidth. I frequently have problems in hotels with free internet as they do not have enough bandwidth, or controlling software, for many users at once.

Skype conversations are dramatically better if you use an inexpensive headset with your computer. You can Skype from an iPhone if there is Wi-Fi - neat!
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Postby Sleepah » Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:56 am

Just a couple of comments to add to Kevin comments on Skype.

Calls computer to computer are free world wide. If you have the recipients adress loaded into your Skype database, you can tell when they are on line and call them. If they are not on line you can text them and when they sign in, they will get the text. All for free, ain't life grand?

SKYPE likes a $20.00 amount left with them on account. Calls back to the states to a phone number from the Bahamas cost pennies per minute and your $20. will last forever. But if you call computer to computer it is 100% FREE.

Skype calls are not perfect and you will get dropped once in a while. I have found that turning of the video portion of the call sometimes helps.

Most all laptops now have a built in camera which you will want. Clip on ones are a real pain.
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