Cruising & Chartering Cruising the Bahamas Tech

Bahamas Internet Options | The Boat Galley

8 Bahamas internet options compared: wifi from businesses, international roaming, T-Mobile, BTC, Aliv, MyIslandWifi, Google Fi and Iridium GO!

Bahamas web choices have positive expanded since we have been there in 2016. Much more choices exist, with higher protection and velocity and significantly decrease costs.

As we’re planning to spend three months within the Bahamas this summer time, I’ve been doing loads of analysis on this matter. Our main climate forecasts (Chris Parker) come by way of e mail, and naturally there’s The Boat Galley.

Standards

The options which are essential to me won’t be the identical as for you.

  • Protection space: can I get web in a number of the extra distant anchorages?
  • Am I restricted in what websites I can entry?
  • How briskly is the service?
  • I’m a heavy consumer, so value is a consideration.
  • Automated billing or do I’ve to cope with checking utilization and paying once I want extra knowledge?
  • Customer support
  • Is there further hardware? In that case, what’s the fee

The Choices for Bahamas Web

Eight primary choices exist for getting web within the Bahamas:

  • Utilizing wifi at native companies
  • Worldwide roaming on a US-based cellphone plan, similar to Verizon or AT&T
  • T-Cellular’s Worldwide Plan
  • BTC (aka Batelco) — Bahamas Phone Co.
  • Aliv
  • MyIslandWifi
  • Google Fi
  • Iridium Go!

Cruisers coming from different nations might produce other choices with cellphone corporations from their house nations, however I’ve no expertise with these. I’m coming from the US and these are my choices. We’re planning to cruise the Berries and Abacos; Dave and I take pleasure in staying at extra distant anchorages as an alternative of all the time being in cities.

Wifi at Native Companies

In cities, there’s usually a bar or restaurant that has free wifi when you’re there. You often have to purchase one thing. It’s virtually all the time passworded and I do know some individuals will go in as soon as, get the password after which use the web on the boat with a wifi extender. My feeling is that until the enterprise says it’s okay so that you can do this, it’s not. They need the bandwidth for his or her clients; they’re providing wifi to draw clients. For those who use it with out shopping for one thing, you’re successfully stealing from them.

My take: Wifi at native companies merely isn’t going to work for me. I want protection in areas the place there are not any companies, I want it on the boat and I want it on a regular basis. Greatest for very low price range cruisers and as a backup to all different prospects.

Worldwide Roaming

For those who’re touring for just some days, worldwide roaming may be an choice, however it usually doesn’t work for cruisers. Knowledge is dear — the final I heard was $10 a day for lower than a gig. So far as I do know, no cruisers go this route.

My take: Absolute no.

T-Cellular Worldwide Knowledge

T-Cellular’s 55+ Plan has a world choice, and I have already got it because it permits limitless high-speed hotspot knowledge within the US. This prices a further $25 per line and is what I exploit for all my web within the US. Within the US, I get 4G velocity virtually in all places and my telephone serves as my hotspot. I wrote an extended article about this T-Cellular Plan so I gained’t go into all the small print right here.

The plan additionally gives limitless worldwide knowledge. So it looks like a no brainer for our journey to the Bahamas. Simply take my telephone and the minute I’m inside vary of a tower, it’s going to join and I’ll have service.

It was that T-Cellular worldwide service within the Bahamas was extraordinarily sluggish. Like dial-up velocity sluggish. T-Cellular nonetheless says that it’s all 2G knowledge. A number of individuals have just lately advised me that they’ve respectable velocity now; others nonetheless complain about how sluggish it’s. So some areas may very well have 3G or 4G knowledge. It’s my understanding that T-Cellular works via BTC, the native telephone firm, so protection areas are about the identical.

Individuals can name your US quantity and it’ll ring when you’ve got protection within the Bahamas and you may as well name out simply as should you have been within the US. Charges range by the place you’re calling.

My take: I’ll be staying on my T-Cellular plan whereas we’re within the Bahamas. It might be good if it really works properly, however I’m not going to rely on it. With my want for dependable and fairly fast connections for climate and TBG, I need to have one other plan in place after which I can examine the 2.

If I have been already on T-Cellular and didn’t want as a lot knowledge as I do, I’d initially go together with simply T-Cellular for my Bahamas web, though I’d have an unlock code for my telephone simply in case I made a decision I wanted to modify to an area SIM. Extra on unlocking telephones under.

BTC

Once we went to the Bahamas in 2016, I obtained a BTC SIM card and put it in my present telephone and used it for hotspot knowledge. Again then, it value $50 for 5GB. Now it’s $35 for 30GB. It’s also possible to get mixture voice and knowledge plans.

BTC’s velocity isn’t blazing nevertheless it’s good in most locations. They declare 4G LTE nevertheless it’s truly “the place out there,” not all over the place. In additional distant spots, you’re in all probability not going to have sufficient velocity for streaming movies. However for simply browsing the online and e-mail, it’s effective.

In case your telephone is unlocked and makes use of a SIM card, you gained’t want any new hardware. And you will get the SIM card earlier than you allow the US, so you possibly can join as quickly as you’re in vary of a tower. To get a SIM card earlier than leaving the US, go to MrSimCard — a SIM card from them prices somewhat greater than shopping for it within the Bahamas however their help is unbelievable so far as telling you in case your telephone will work and actual instructions for getting related as soon as within the Bahamas. BTC additionally has shops in nearly each city within the Bahamas and you will get arrange virtually anyplace you go. Customer support is usually good within the native outlets.

You possibly can prime up your account on-line or purchase playing cards in native shops. For years, BTC was the one phone service within the Bahamas they usually’ve received the methods down pat. They don’t supply

Telephone unlocking: Your telephone needs to be unlocked to make use of a BTC SIM card. Most US carriers provides you with an unlock code that you simply enter once you put the overseas SIM card in for the primary time (you are able to do this when you’re nonetheless within the US, you don’t should be within the nation the place you might have the SIM card). Examine together with your US firm for particulars, nevertheless it’s a very good concept to get an unlock code earlier than leaving the US even in case you assume you’re going with an answer that doesn’t want it, simply in case.

Your different choice is to purchase an unlocked telephone earlier than leaving the US (Amazon and eBay often have a big choice) or get a BTC telephone when you get to the Bahamas.

My take: BTC is a strong choice for Bahamas web however MyIslandWifi is best, I feel. Nevertheless, BTC is straightforward to arrange anyplace within the Bahamas so in case you’re there and also you want respectable web NOW it’s a sensible choice. If you wish to get a BTC SIM whereas nonetheless within the US, the service provided by MrSimCard is nicely value the fee. MrSimCard has nice customer support and a wealth of data about getting related in nearly any nation on the planet.

Aliv

Aliv is a brand new Bahamas phone service. You possibly can both get a SIM card and use your telephone as a hotspot (or can get a voice+knowledge SIM) or you will get a MiFi router that’s data-only.

Aliv is placing up its personal towers and, in some places, placing their hardware on BTC towers. Protection is just not as in depth as BTC. MrSimCard’s suggestion is to make use of Aliv in case you are in an space the place their protection is sweet however BTC when you head to extra distant areas. Eddie, who owns MrSimCard, says that it actually comes right down to a query of velocity vs. protection. I’m advised that their protection map is “optimistic.”

Aliv usually has greater velocity than BTC and advertises limitless knowledge though they may throttle you at 100GB on a month-to-month plan or 30GB on a weekly plan in accordance with their truthful use coverage.

The Mifi limitless month-to-month plan prices $75 per 30 days.

There’s lots of confusion concerning the Mifi gadget. Some individuals report getting one at no cost with no strings hooked up; others report that cancelling your account earlier than three years is up triggers a big cost for the gadget. I used their on-line chat with customer support to attempt to discover out extra about this and was left hanging after the rep stated she’d should ask her supervisor.

Aliv doesn’t have shops in Bimini or the Berries. In different areas, shops are solely in bigger cities. This is usually a drawback for boaters who need to decide up a SIM card or gadget as soon as they get to the Bahamas. MrSimCard says that they anticipate to hold Aliv SIM playing cards and Mifi units by March 1. Once they do, I feel the price of the Mifi gadget will probably be quite a bit clearer.

In case you intend to make use of an Aliv SIM card in your telephone, ensure you have an unlocked telephone or the unlock code on your telephone.

My take: There are critical questions on Aliv’s protection areas and in addition the price of the system. I’ve additionally heard some (unconfirmed) studies that throttling happens before 100 GB for the month-to-month plan — extra like 20 to 30 GB. With this a lot uncertainty, I feel that BTC and MyIslandWifi are higher decisions for about the identical cash, though I do know of quite a few cruisers utilizing Aliv and loving it.

MyIslandWifi

MyIslandWifi is the brand-new child on the block, promoting to cruisers simply since mid-December. And cruisers are raving concerning the service. $75 a month will get you really limitless (no throttling ever) excessive velocity web. You’re solely restricted by protection and any community congestion (which I’m advised is simply an issue round Nice Harbour Cay within the Berries, on account of a BTC tower drawback that they’re working to resolve).

MyIslandWifi makes use of BTC towers however totally different frequencies, so that you get the in depth protection that BTC presents however keep away from the community congestion. MyIslandWifi and cruisers I’ve talked to report connecting even when 25 miles from a tower, though sign power and velocity improve as you get nearer. Prime velocity is 4G LTE they usually declare it’s obtainable throughout the community. Cruisers report that velocity inside about 10 miles of a tower is quick. For even higher attain, you’ll be able to put the battery-powered router up the mast or on the highest deck of a trawler.

You will get their Mifi unit shipped to you within the US or Canada (by the corporate, not going by means of MrSimCard) and simply have it activated if you end up about to cross to the Bahamas. Additional, billing is about on an autopayment plan and you may cancel at any time with out penalty. In case you are returning to the US, the perfect factor to do is wait till you hit the US after which cancel — that method in case your crossing will get delayed, you continue to have web.

You may as well have a Mifi shipped to you within the Bahamas for those who determine you need to change when you’re there. They will ship to most populated locations in a single to 2 days. For those who’re in a distant location, you’re going to need to have it shipped to the closest city and go there.

If you order the Mifi unit, you pay a $50 deposit. On the finish of your journey, you possibly can return it and the deposit can be refunded or you’ll be able to hold it for future journeys (they usually’ll hold the deposit).

MyIslandWifi is knowledge solely, however you will get telephone service IF your telephone has wifi calling functionality. Join your telephone to the Mifi community and go into settings, choose wifi calling after which inform it to ONLY use wifi calling (each telephone is barely totally different the way you do these steps). Flip off mobile calling and knowledge. I’m informed that your telephone will ring and you can also make calls and textual content simply as should you have been within the US. Since we aren’t but within the Bahamas, I can’t say from private expertise how this works.

Studies are that the customer support is superb. The corporate president provides out his cellphone quantity for something that customer support can’t deal with. I referred to as the corporate quantity on a Sunday afternoon and Leo, the president, answered and talked to me for about an hour!

My take: MyIslandWifi is what I’m planning to make use of for my main web service supplier within the Bahamas. The mixture of protection, worth, velocity, really limitless knowledge, capability to get the unit within the US, arrange autopay and nice customer support makes it a no brainer for my wants.

Google Fi

Google Fi is a real worldwide telephone and knowledge answer, with service in over 100 nations. Limitless speak and textual content value $20 per 30 days, though calls outdoors your own home nation are 20 cents a minute. Knowledge is $10 per gig for the primary six GB, then free thereafter. Throttling happens at 15GB.

Google Fi could also be suitable together with your present telephone however usually requires a brand new Fi-compatible telephone. The least costly prices $149.

My take: Google Fi is nice for those who’re ceaselessly leaping nations; cruisers who use it like it. It’s not the perfect answer for cruisers who will simply be spending a season within the Bahamas. For us, it will value $80 a month, require a brand new telephone and throttle our web at 15GB. BTC, Aliv or MyIslandWifi are all higher offers for a visit that’s solely to the Bahamas. However when you’re heading down by way of the entire Caribbean or around the globe, it could be an excellent choice.

Iridium GO!

The Iridium GO! is a satellite-based web answer. Nevertheless, it’s under no circumstances like “actual” web. Sure, you’ll be able to join from anyplace on the planet. Nevertheless it solely enables you to use apps which are particularly designed to work with it, and connection velocity continues to be painfully sluggish. Nonetheless you will get mail and climate anyplace with it.

An Iridium GO! prices about $1,000 for the hardware and $140 a month for limitless knowledge.

My take: I’d love an Iridium GO! to make sure we all the time have climate information. Nevertheless it’s not the reply for our web wants. Have been I taking off throughout an ocean, I’d purchase one in a heartbeat.

Backside Line

Not one of the Bahamas web choices is actually dangerous; all are enhancements on what we had in 2016 and we made issues work then. Determine what’s most necessary to you, the place you propose to go each within the Bahamas and after, and what your price range is.

Know-how isn’t as onerous to grasp because it was just some years in the past, however getting good directions for methods to set issues up when you get to the Bahamas is important: it’s robust to name for assist when you possibly can’t name.

As a result of we’ll be cruising in hurricane season and in addition due to The Boat Galley, a number of communication channels are key for us. We’ll have:

  • T-Cellular Worldwide telephone (unlocked in order that if I really feel the necessity to change to BTC I can)
  • MyIslandWifi router
  • inReach monitoring and texting satellite tv for pc system
  • Borrowed satellite tv for pc telephone arrange to have the ability to obtain e-mail with a minimal quantity of airtime
  • NOTE: We wouldn’t have an SSB or ham radio on Barefoot Gal

Sure, it’s overkill. However communications are crucial when cruising in hurricane season. I say that, however actually, getting climate information and with the ability to get assist in the occasion of a medical emergency are two of crucial security gadgets for cruising, interval. We’ll skimp on another issues to have good and redundant communications means.

Some hyperlinks above (together with all Amazon hyperlinks) are affiliate hyperlinks, which means that I earn from qualifying purchases. Study extra.