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Old 05-07-2013, 06:15 PM   #1
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Internet/Phone while Cruising

The question of Internet/phone while cruising comes up regularly. For data, one option is an unlocked 3G modem/dongle. We have successfully used this in 9 countries. Last week in the Dominican Republic we paid $3.78 for a sim card and some pesos for data. Cheap at ~$1.22/day for 200 Megs (which we went through in about 4 hours). We’re in the Bahamas now and paid $15 for the sim card, $5 activation fee and $30 for 30days/1Gig of data and they gave us $5.00 phone credit. Connection speed varies so, as a result, so does the amount of data you consume. Using Skype is a data eater if you have fast enough speed to even make a call.

It is also nice to have an unlocked quad phone which will cover all the international frequencies. We have paid from $1.00 to $27.00 per sim card. You will need a new sim card for each country with the exception of the ABC’s. International phone calls are usually pretty cheap and all the companies run specials. The larger cell phone providers usually charge between 2 and 10 cents/minutes prepaid for international calls.
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:40 PM   #2
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For US coastal cruising I use a verizon MIFI unit. 50 bucs monthly for 4 gig and up to 10 devices can access it. I have not found a place where it didn't work except in the FL everglades.
No antenna needed and no special device required to be placed on the boat.
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:58 PM   #3
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Larry

Can you buy and use an unlocked dongle and prepaid sim cards in USA??

Bob
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Old 05-07-2013, 10:29 PM   #4
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Another option that works worldwide is KVH satellite.

We have one phone number that works world wide, anywhere any time. We also have a 2 Mbps data connection world wide.

The down side is the cost. The unit cost $13k and data costs $1.00 a mb with voice calls $.49a minute.

The up side is it works. Out at sea, or in a remote location. It works everywhere on this planet.
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Old 05-08-2013, 12:43 AM   #5
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I use a unlocked dual sim quad band phone that doubles as a hot spot or can be teathered.

I have a second international sim card that is pretty reasonable in most countries...
One sim card....

International SIM Card | Prepaid Roaming SIM from OneSimCard

I run it in one or these, android, waterproof, rugged phone..

Amazon.com: FortisX V5 - IP67 Rugged Waterproof, Dustproof, Shockproof 3G Android 2.3 Smartphone Dual SIM 3.2"Touchscreen,5MP cacamera,GPS: Computers & Accessories

I will use it in Costa Rica and Panama this month.. so far it has worked pretty good. I have a 866 number linked to the one sim card that allows for my calls to get routed to me wherever I roam ..
HOLLYWOOD
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Larry

Can you buy and use an unlocked dongle and prepaid sim cards in USA??

Bob
Bob: You can buy an unlocked 3G/4G modem/dongle in the US or CA for around $30. I don't know if you can use one with a US phone provider in the US though. I know outside the US, when you activate the sim card for the dongle, you have to make sure that you activating it for data not just voice. In the Dominican Republic we went to the Claro office and in the Bahamas we went to the BTC office and had them activate the data plans.
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hollywood8118 View Post
I use a unlocked dual sim quad band phone that doubles as a hot spot or can be teathered.

I have a second international sim card that is pretty reasonable in most countries...
One sim card....

International SIM Card | Prepaid Roaming SIM from OneSimCard

I run it in one or these, android, waterproof, rugged phone.
Ditto. I've done the same for the few years. I the other sim will work in verizon phone but you must get it unlocked by verizon while in the US. If you leave without doing so, they think they can help, but actually can't.

I like the rate for OneSim when traveling and they do try to be competitive.

However, it not, just do as Larry suggested and buy a sim for that country, but again, get your phone unlocked first.
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:36 PM   #8
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My son learned two or so weeks ago how vital un-locking the phone is. His AT&T iPhone wouldn't work in Italy. Suffice it to say he will only purchase un-locked phones direct from Apple in the future.
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:38 PM   #9
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Verizon will unlock any phone you buy from them, but you have to ask while in country.
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:43 PM   #10
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Good to know as I have Verizon. I'll say this much about AT&T, they guard their phones jealously. His contract is on hold, but his iPhone is sitting in a drawer.
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Old 05-13-2013, 02:56 PM   #11
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Verizon will unlock any phone you buy from them, but you have to ask while in country.
Verizon uses a version of CDMA....not very popular around the world. AT&T uses GSM which is the most common cell radio in the world. That maybe the reason Verizon is so lax and AT&T is not.

IOW, a CDMA phone is near worthless outside of the US. GSM is used everywhere.
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Old 05-14-2013, 10:19 AM   #12
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You must have a quad or tri band phone and the reason to unlock it is so that you can use a non-proprietary SIM. SIM’s are only GSM, so I thought that was obvious.
Many of the smart phones Verizon sells are Quad band. I think it is done for marketing, in the sense that Verizon is clearly the most expensive of the three, so one does not stay with them to save money, but rather, when you call and need something (like an unlocked phone), they almost never say no.
I’ve been with T mobile, Sprint, ATT and finally Verizon and I can’t see ever going back to those others, though I did like the connections with Sprint.
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Old 05-14-2013, 11:14 AM   #13
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To unlock phones and USB modems/dongles there are many sources. Some are free to unlock and others you will need to pay $5.00 - $25.00/device, if your provider won't. The internet is a wonderful tool for this. To unlock your device you will need your make, model number and IMEI # (which is usually under the battery). Google "unlock cell phones" and the possibilities are many. You may not be able to unlock every device this way but there aren't many you can't.
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Old 05-27-2013, 02:53 PM   #14
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A follow up on internet access in the Bahamas:

When we activated our unlocked USB modem/dongle in Mayaguana on May 6, it was for 30 days/1 Gig worth of data. See post one. On May 19, we received the text message below and what a pleasant surprise. It was bad news/good news.

Name:
Number: BTC
Content: You have used 100% of the data limit from your plan. Your data speeds will decrease until your plan time limit expires or you purchase a new data plan.
Time: 19/05/2013 07:50:52


Most places we have been, once you have reached either the 30 days or the data package limit you are done. I can't say we really have noticed any difference in the speed. Compared to the US, BTC is slow to start with, sometimes painfully so though. We've stopped at 10 different anchorages and have had internet in all but one. There aren't many places where you don't see a BTC tower in the Bahamas.

If you don't have an unlocked USB modem/dongle you can buy a locked one for the BTC network from one of their business offices. If you do return trips or are going to spend time here, it's an easy option.

At the same time we have looked at what's available for wifi from the boat. There's not much that is free and unsecured from the Exumas south. You can buy wifi at Georgetown, Staniel Cay and a few other places but it's expensive at $8/hour to $55/week. Ouch!




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Old 05-27-2013, 07:34 PM   #15
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Do you all have a signal booster with you? I have heard various stories of people traveling and getting reception in places that were previously dark with them. 3GStore is a great resource for cell connections when on the fringe:
3G & 4G Signal Boosters, Amplifiers, and Repeaters :: 3Gstore.com
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:48 AM   #16
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Andy: No signal booster but something to take a look at. They aren't cheap though. Thanks.
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Old 05-28-2013, 12:31 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timjet View Post
For US coastal cruising I use a verizon MIFI unit. 50 bucs monthly for 4 gig and up to 10 devices can access it. I have not found a place where it didn't work except in the FL everglades.
No antenna needed and no special device required to be placed on the boat.
I hate to show my ignorance, but this entire thread is way over my head! Would some kindly soul please explain to me, hopefully in very simple language, just what a verizon MIFI unit is? And what a modem/dongle is? (The latter sounds faintly obscene). I think that these are things that may be useful, but sometimes my age and being technologically challenged just shows to an uncomfortable extent.
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Old 05-28-2013, 12:57 PM   #18
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I hate to show my ignorance, but this entire thread is way over my head! Would some kindly soul please explain to me, hopefully in very simple language, just what a verizon MIFI unit is? And what a modem/dongle is? (The latter sounds faintly obscene). I think that these are things that may be useful, but sometimes my age and being technologically challenged just shows to an uncomfortable extent.
A MiFi module connects to the Verizon network, and acts as a router for your computer. It allows your data connection to come directly from the 4G network, working wherever a 4G signal from the carrier exists. If you have an unlimited data plan, it works great.
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Old 05-28-2013, 03:17 PM   #19
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A MiFi module connects to the Verizon network, and acts as a router for your computer. It allows your data connection to come directly from the 4G network, working wherever a 4G signal from the carrier exists. If you have an unlimited data plan, it works great.
So, then, with an MiFi module on my boat I can have wi-fi available to run a laptop? (Provided that the signal from the carrier exists, of course). I'm going to change my verizon plan tomorrow (just by way of coincidence) anyway, so should perhaps get unlimited data plan? My marina does not have wi-fi service available (possibly the last remaining marina on the face of the earth which does not!) and I sorely miss the internet when I am down there.
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Old 05-28-2013, 03:23 PM   #20
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I have a Verizon MIFI unit at 4 GB per month, cost is $50. It works pretty much wherever your cell phone works. You can connect up to 10 devices with this unit. I connect my cell phone, laptop, and tablet.
I like it but it is pricey compared to other options. It is however considered very secure so I do online banking with it.
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