Bahamian Internet Access
For U.S.-based cruisers and nomads hopping over to the Bahamas, the options to keep connected keep getting better and better.
From utilizing public Wi-Fi, cellular data roaming from U.S. carriers, obtaining a local SIM card, using cloud-based SIMs, or using personal satellite communicators - it's entirely possible to cruise the Bahamas and keep abundantly connected.
You won't have to choose between sublime sandy beaches and anchorages or keeping online - unless you really want to.
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Wi-Fi in the Bahamas
Relying on public Wi-Fi is a simple way to stay connected in the Bahamas. You do not need to secure any special hardware or plans in advance for this option. Wi-Fi works exactly the same in the Bahamas as it does in the USA, and you can use all of your current equipment to access public Wi-Fi spots.
Most Bahamian towns and cities are home to at least one cafe, restaurant, or business that offers Wi-Fi either for free or for a fee. If the Wi-Fi is free, it is expected you will patronize that business - and the Wi-Fi will likely be password protected to help encourage you to do so.
If you'll be securing into a marina, they may also offer Wi-Fi for an additional fee, or included in your marina fee.
If you're in a marina or are anchored out near a Wi-Fi hotspot, having Wi-Fi extending gear on board can help improve your connectivity if your boat is too far from a Wi-Fi source.
But, no amount of gear will make any difference if the source of the Wi-Fi is overloaded or doesn't provide sufficient bandwidth to perform the tasks you desire. Very often it is the upstream connection itself that is very limited – especially when working with Wi-Fi at smaller businesses.
Be especially considerate of others sharing the same Wi-Fi network. Streaming video should only be attempted if you have received an explicit OK from the network manager.
Don't be the one who drags the internet to a crawl for everyone - in some areas, there just is not a lot of connectivity to go around. In these locations, high bandwidth activities will be very frustrating.
Wi-Fi Calling Tip: Every one of the big four cellular carriers now supports Wi-Fi Calling on compatible phones. If your phone supports this, you can make and receive text messages and voice calls over Wi-Fi, even if you have no cellular service.
Roaming on a U.S. Cellular Data Plan
Roaming is when a cellular carrier has agreements with another network to utilize that other network's cellular towers. This helps a carrier provide connectivity to its customers who are just passing through areas that the carrier doesn’t directly service themselves.
Behind the scenes, the carriers may charge each other for any usage while roaming onto each other's networks. As such, the carriers often manage their costs by enforcing specific roaming policies on their plans.
There are two main types of roaming - domestic and international.
When roaming internationally, many US carrier plans differentiate between North American (Mexico and Canada) roaming and International roaming (all other countries).
All of the major U.S. carriers consider roaming in the Bahamas to be International roaming.
International roaming options are offered by all four major U.S. carriers. While the carriers do offer international plans or plan add-ons, quality of service - or service at all is not guaranteed.
Most reports from those who have attempted to use their U.S. based plans in the Bahamas are not good. Roaming on Bahamian towers is most often reported to be lacking in availability and data speed.
If you’re traveling for just a few days, international roaming on your native cellular plan might be an option, but for those spending lengthier periods in the Bahamas - and those who need larger amounts of data or speedier data - international roaming add-ons will likely not cut it.
It's very important to know the exact terms of your U.S. based plan's international roaming features so that you know how much data you will be able to use - and the costs of that use - if attempting to use your U.S. based cellular plan.
International roaming on U.S. based cellular plans can get pricey - quickly.
Data Saving Tips for Capped Plans
As noted above, most U.S. based plans that permit data roaming into other countries place data usage caps on the roaming portions of those plans. If you are purchasing a local SIM card to use in another country, you may also find yourself dealing with data caps. Satellite-based plans also often have data caps.
So how can you make the most of your data limits?
We've got a complete guide - with tips to lowering data usage - in our guide:
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U.S. Carrier Bahamian Roaming Policies by Plan
Each carrier and plan has its own roaming policies. In this section, we track the International roaming policies for current and legacy plans on each of the major US carriers - including Google Fi and Global SIM options.
Cellular Frequency Bands
Getting the best cellular service means having equipment optimized for a carrier's network - this section tracks the cellular bands utilized by the Bahamian carriers.
Getting Local Service
It may be best to seek out a local plan - we go over the options in the Bahamas.
Broadband satellite isn't consumer affordable for most, however, there are lower bandwidth options.
VPN Service: Virtually Getting Back to the USA
You may find your favorite websites and streaming services block international traffic. This section has some tips on getting around those blocks.
International Roaming Data Plan Options
Here are the cellular data plans we're tracking that are more readily available within the U.S. that have decent to awesome international roaming allowances.
Summary: Stay Connected in Paradise
If cruising the Bahamian Islands has caught your eye, rest assured that you can explore while still maintaining some semblance of connectivity. Be prepared to research, plan, and be flexible, but know that for most, maintaining a decent mobile internet connection is possible.
- International Mobile Internet Options for U.S. Based Travelers
- Keeping Connected in Mexico
- Keeping Connected in Canada
- Mobile Satellite Internet & Communication Options for RVers and Boaters
Related News Stories:
- AT&T Upgrades International Day Pass - $100/Month Cap Posted on: July 13, 2021
- Google Fi Enforcing Restrictions on International Data Use Posted on: January 27, 2020
- Skyroam Introduces Solis X Global WiFi Smartspot Posted on: July 24, 2019
- T-Mobile Adds Two New International Options Posted on: June 4, 2019
- CONFIRMED: T-Mobile Eliminating One+ International Plan - The Last Official Unlimited Mobile Hotspot Option! Posted on: August 7, 2018
- T-Mobile Adds 70 Countries and a Daily Data Pass to International Options Posted on: July 18, 2018
- AT&T Introduces 'International Day Pass' Option for International Travel Posted on: January 26, 2017
- Google's Project Fi Adds High-Speed International Data Posted on: July 12, 2016
- Verizon Introduces TravelPass - New Option for International Travel Posted on: November 13, 2015
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