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F15EWSO 05-29-2012 07:38 PM

Cell phone usage for USA and "maybe" Caribbean
 
All,
We are finishing our current contract with Verizon in December 2012 just about the time we will cross over for a standard 5 month trip through the Caribbean.

With no contract, we can use any carrier we want, bear in mind in May when we return we'll be back to normal US operations. We need to get some sort of of contract to support our two college kiddos so going without is not an option as the "family plan" stuff has proved economical and a good deal overall. Also coming out of the Caribbean after 5 months we'll just hook back up with our kids in the usual "unlimited" minutes we'be using for years. We are inclined to use an android in this family plan as we can use it as a "hub" for our PCs when we are out of WiFi but within cell phone coverage if needed.

We've seen the posts about SIM cards in the Caribbean; changing as needed. Does this work with a "cheap" phone from Wal-Mart? Will our US based contract be cost prohibitive in the islands (it appears so looking at BTCBahamas.com)

We'll use WiFi and Skype when able, I also have a Google phone number that I "own".

Doing a search for cell-phones here on sail-net was a hodge-podge of satellite, cell, WiFi, and quite often dated material in the ever evolving world of telecom.

Is anybody doing the same thing right now or recently with a great idea that worked for them and might work for us?

I'm sure my novella is clear as mud but that is how I feel about my solutions as well....please help

THanks

dacap06 05-29-2012 08:47 PM

Re: Cell phone usage for USA and "maybe" Caribbean
 
Most of the world uses the GSM phone standard, but Verizon and most other carriers in the USA use the CDMA standard. You cannot use a phone for one on the other. You might find useful. Most of the islands supports GSM.

If you want a US GSM phone that you can use in other countries, get one from T-Mobile or AT&T, but make sure it is unlocked or that you can unlock it yourself so you can use it with other phone companies' systems. You'll have to investigate to see what AT&T or T-Mobile offers in terms of family plans. I'm a Verizon subscriber and have no idea.

Tom

denverd0n 05-30-2012 09:20 AM

Re: Cell phone usage for USA and "maybe" Caribbean
 
FYI, when my contract period with AT&T was up they willingly gave me the instructions for unlocking the phone. I just called customer service and asked.

We have since switched to a Verizon phone and plan here in Tampa, but keep the unlocked, GSM, AT&T phone for overseas use with cheap SIM cards.

F15EWSO 05-30-2012 11:03 AM

Re: Cell phone usage for USA and "maybe" Caribbean
 
Gentlemen,
thanks for the words and the link. My wife is tuned into the GSM issue and unlocking phones. I think we'll be able to avoid any huge pitfalls, just trying to optimize our capability in the various countries we'll visit with the least amount of hardware.

TQA 05-30-2012 05:18 PM

Re: Cell phone usage for USA and "maybe" Caribbean
 
If you plan to make calls out of the Leeward/Windward islands then the best option is to have TWO phones on either Lime or Digicell. Keep one phone for incoming cals with the same sim therefor the same no. and a second phone with a sim from the current island for outgoing calls.

As a visitor to the US I could not get a contract phone so used payasyougo Net10 from Walmart and found it to be OK for my needs.

F15EWSO 05-30-2012 06:18 PM

Re: Cell phone usage for USA and "maybe" Caribbean
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TQA (Post 877847)
If you plan to make calls out of the Leeward/Windward islands then the best option is to have TWO phones on either Lime or Digicell. Keep one phone for incoming cals with the same sim therefor the same no. and a second phone with a sim from the current island for outgoing calls.

As a visitor to the US I could not get a contract phone so used payasyougo Net10 from Walmart and found it to be OK for my needs.

TQA,
So I am to understand that if I have my GSM phone I might purchase when entering the Bahamas for example it will still work at the usual rates (maybe) but outgoing calls would be high with that phone so get another SIM through Lime or Digicell for outgoing calls?

wingNwing 05-30-2012 06:41 PM

Re: Cell phone usage for USA and "maybe" Caribbean
 
We bought a SIM thru "BaTelCo" (Bahamas Telephone Company) for $15 to use with our unlocked GSM phone. You could then buy pay as you go minutes for 50 cents or less to the USA, cheaper in-island. The same phone worked in Aruba on the same kind of contract, $15 for the SIM card with a local phone number, and then the per-minute rate was pretty inexpensive depending on how much you bought (60 minutes, the price per minute was more expensive than 120 minutes, etc). We also "trained" our USA contacts to use email to communicate with us - that was the best savings.

rablack 05-31-2012 10:14 AM

Re: Cell phone usage for USA and "maybe" Caribbean
 
You might consider tollfreeforwarding.com We use a us number and change sim cards whenever we want. All U.S. contacts call the same U.S. number and it forwards flawlessly and inexpensively to our local cell. It is very similar to Google Voice; however, it allows you to forward to a foreign cell phone. You could set it up with Google Voice forwarding to Tollfreeforwarding that forwards to your local (temporary sim) number if you wanted to be able to receive texts and voice mail via email.

BreakAwayFL 05-31-2012 10:25 AM

Re: Cell phone usage for USA and "maybe" Caribbean
 
I would definitely take in everyone's input here, but an AT&T iPhone 4 or 4S has been wonderful for traveling in the Caribbean for me. When I'm traveling for pleasure, I often buy local SIM cards, and when traveling on business the AT&T SIM works great (at their expense).

It can be easily unlocked by anyone who is reasonably technically savvy, and A paper clip is all that is needed to swap out SIM cards. Having an iPhone also lets you have a great backup tool for GPS/chart plotting.

hellosailor 05-31-2012 10:30 AM

Re: Cell phone usage for USA and "maybe" Caribbean
 
I can't help you on the Carib side but on the US, Verizon DOES have a few 'global' phones that will do GSM and CDMA and work outside the US. If you really want to stay with them.

But if you are heading out, I'd suggest looking into Straight Path (only available at WalMart) or one of the other new "unlimited no contract" carriers. They have only recently started carrying smartphones and have a limited selection, but you're looking at $45-50 per month for unlimited everything. SP uses the Verizon network as their backbone, so the coverage is about the same. MetroPCS is even cheaper, not real national coverage yet. There are a lot of options that would pay off over just a 5-month period, and give you the chance to look at the US market afresh when you come back.

Meanwhile, that GVoice number means you give out one number, and no one needs to know if you've changed carriers or whatnot behind the scenes.


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