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bshipp 12-07-2010 08:22 AM

BVI cell/sat phone coverage
I'm off to the BVI for a week in January for my first time. I had not planned on worrying about cell or sat phone coverage but alas circumstances require that I be in touch, more or less. I am looking at a terrestrial service from Brightroam (basically an international phone with a BVI SIM and prepaid minutes) or a sat phone from either Globalstar or Iridium. The Brightroam solution is by far the least expensive but I am concerned about coverage. Globalstar is the next best deal, but I know they've been having transponder problems on some of their satellites. Since they're a LEO provider, that would seem problematic if the errant satellite was one the that was in range at the time you needed to call. Iridium looks like the best coverage, but voice quality is cumbersome and the prices are up there. I really just need voice, not Internet. I'm not planning on having the unit on all the time, more just a once a day or every other day check-in, and from an anchorage, not open seas. I will probably visit the major islands and a few minor ones.


Minnewaska 12-07-2010 09:02 AM

Rent a cell phone when you get there. If they are issued by the local phone company, they will work everywhere, within reasonable distance from shore.

I set up my Verizon phone from the US to supposedly work in the BVI. There was a conversion charge and calls were a fortune. It was very intermittent. The guy aboard that had one issued there had his working all the time.

SVAuspicious 12-07-2010 09:31 AM

If you have a GSM phone already (AT&T and T-Mobile in the US) your phone will just work in the BVI.

You can easily rent a local cell phone for the duration of your trip. The costs are not terrible.

Iridium is relatively expensive but pretty reliable.

Globalstar is an exercise in frustration.

You'll find wifi available in lots of places - generally every couple of days in a classic counterclockwise trip.

If you can see St. John in USVI (JVD, Cane Garden, most of Soper's, the outside of The Bight on Norman) whatever you have at home will work.

jackdale 12-07-2010 10:43 AM

Some companies, provide cell phones with the boats. At February I was on a TMM boat that also had a wireless router.

Ulladh 12-07-2010 01:00 PM

Good Verizon signal in BVI this past April. No extra charges on my family plan.

Minnewaska 12-07-2010 01:22 PM

Just for clarification. I used my Blackberry with Verizon service set up for BVI in Feb 2010. Phone call service was intermittent at best. Texting worked all the time. Email only worked once, near the end of the week, when I had about 200 come all at once.

Ulladh 12-07-2010 02:30 PM

I had no problems, only used the phone function.

bshipp 12-08-2010 07:43 AM

My US provider is CDMA (Sprint) though if Vz works down there mine should too, since Vz is a Spring roaming partner. Looks like my best bet is to wait until I get there and see. If I need something I'll grab a rental or just buy a local prepaid.

Thanks everyone for your replies.

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