View Full Version : CARIBBEAN SIM CARDS
Thanks to the wonders of the forum, I have been happily swapping English, Spanish and Portuguese SIM cards in my mobile phone for some months. Does anyone know if it is possible to buy a sim with extensive Caribbean coverage or do you have to pay roaming charges if you buy a SIM on one island and move up through the chain? Thanks very much for any advice.
Well when we've been there (last time three years ago) we couldn't get a sim card for either our Motorola Tri-Band or Nokia. It was damned annoying, but the Caribbean islands are all 'sewn up' by Cable and Wireless who are the monopoly franchisees there and their baud rate is unique apparently. Certainly no European 'phone of any of our cruising freinds worked.
Didn't matter which island, the 'advice' was all the same - buy a new 'phone! 'Phone cards were readily available, but unless you have deep pockets, it's a pricey way of calling home. We ended up relying on email using the very cheap Int. cafes.
Two lots of friends who live in St Lucia and Antigua reckon there has been a big push by the local governments to get C and W out but, when we were there, they were still firmly in place.
As I say, it's a while since we were there, so it'll be interesting to see if things have changed.
Yes you can but ...
Islands appear to work in groupings. No one card works throughout island chain without huge roaming charges.
Trinidad and Tobago will sell you a SIM card for prepay. You cannot roam with it. In Bequia they would not sell one - said go to St Vincent but made clear there was a residency reuquirement and we would not get one anyway. French islands have their own system - which I think is common with France.
It may help you when you do get a card to enlist the help of a local prepared for you to use his/her address.
If you search on the web you will find there are several choices for UK based roaming SIM cards with half reasonable prices. Ther is also a Caribbean mobile phone info website which I will try to find and report back.
Be warned that land lines are very unreliable and expensive even with a phone card. Even in the ex brit Islands where C&W prevails, the cards (for landlines are not often interchangeable). Still, things are changing at last and we hope itwill be a little better this year.
That's a change then from our last visit. I can remember, though it may have been on an earlier trip, that the newspaper in St Lucia was full of 'Indignant of Castries' type letters, and the radio, when you could hear it over the Reggae(!) full of anti C and W comment!
Our St Lucia friends said that the government were demanding that C and W reduce their charges or get out. Maybe they did!
We were told by the C and W people themselves, that the baud rate was constant through the islands (possibly not for the Virgins or French 'cos we didn't ask) and that they would not sell us a SIM card because it would be of no use to us.
Anyway, because our friends insisted we use their 'phones, we weren't too concerned, and the Intercafes were very cheap and terrific fun! Incidentally, we didn't find any problem with the landlines either internally or internationally, though the latter were almost physically painful in cost!!
If and when we nip over again, we'll stick to the simple life, use our friend's broadband connections and 'struggle on' that way!! It's a hell of a lot cheaper anyway.
When we were last there in 2004 Digicell had arrived. Their sims work in many islands and the cost was 29EC per minute, and that was the same if you dialled locally or internationally. The cheapest phones we ever found, the same sim worked in St Lucia and Grenada, I'm not sure in how many others as we haven't been back since we were Ivandalised.
Thanks for your advice which I will print out and take with me in my ever expanding folder of handy stuff to know. The forum is a fantastic source of knowledge from people who have already been where you are heading.
Digicel have indeed got involved in most of the Caribbean islands. Here in Barbados they launched in Feb 2004 when the phone market was opened up for competition. I believe they are currently launching in Trinidad - seem to remember they are in at least a dozen Caribbean countries.
The incumbent in most of the islands is C&W - much loathed due to years off ripping people off. However they have dropped prices. My C&W (work!) mobile roams happily across Trinidad/Tobago/Grenada/St Vincent/Antigua and Barbados - haven't tried it anywhere else. Not sure of prices either but they should all be available at these sites: www.candw.com.bb (http://www.candw.com.bb) and www.digicelbarbados.com (http://www.digicelbarbados.com) A google search should show you the relevant web address for the island you're originating from.
The phone companies here however are restricting the pay as you go (pre paid) phones to one per address - they are heavily subsidised and everyone has been taking advantage of this.
You may want to check out Cingular (AT&T) who operate in several islands.
Hope that's of help...
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