The Caribbean beckons with its sun scorched sands, crystal blue waters and a laid back pace of living. But you got to keep connected right? Any geek worth his bytes is going to be packing an iPhone.
Can you imagine that some people travel to the Caribbean without a GPS Mapping system and 802.11/g wireless connectivity?
Here is our guide to connectivity in the Caribbean:
How connected is the Caribbean?
As expected, internet penetration in the Caribbean is far below the world average. Just 17% of people of its 40 million strong population are internet users, which is unsurprising, considering the economic climate and inflated cost of internet servers in the region. But the good news is that telecommunications, although small, is one of the fastest growing industries in the Caribbean.
The iPhone itself is not yet available to buy in any Caribbean country, although Apple insist that it is “coming soon” to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
Can you get wi-fi anywhere?
Cuba (Yes we know, not technically the Caribbean but still a major resort!)
In Cuba, the answer is no. To get a flavour of Cuban telecommunications, take the two following strange but depressingly true facts:
1. April 2008: Two months ago, Raul Castro’s government finally allowed an ‘ordinary Cuban citizen’ to own a mobile phone, a luxury previously reserved for government officials and millionaire businessmen.
2. September 2006: The Cuban journalist Guillermo Farinas ended his 6-month hunger strike after being forced onto a drip for authorities. His protest for a ‘free internet’ failed, as did his organs.
It is rare for an ‘ordinary Cuban citizen’ to have internet access at home. With heavy policing of free speech on the internet, along with wildly inflated prices, you may struggle to put your iphone to use here. Internet is elusive and expensive. And the cherry on this cake is that power cuts are commonplace in Cuba.
However, do not despair – as tourism is a big industry in Cuba, the country does bend the rules of communism for us visitors. Havana airport, as well as Havana Cuba Hotel, Panorama Hotel, and various internet café’s in the capital offer wireless internet to tourists.
The cheapest hotel for wifi access that I could find is the Aparthotel Gaviota Montehabana located in Havana that offers 100 hours wifi access for 2.50CU (around $2.60 per hour.)
For a full list of every hotel that offers wifi access then please visit this page at Cuba hotel booking.
Elsewhere in the Caribbean:
Over in Jamaica, Barbados and the Dominican Republic, life, thankfully is taken a little less seriously. The sun will be shining, the birds will be singing, and you will be able to gloat to your friends in their sweaty city offices – direct from your iPhone. Since 2005, broadband is now available to all the Caribbean islands. Wireless is available in all airports, and many hotels and café’s in the Caribbean. A number of different companies also offer wifi access across a range of locations.
In Jamaica Tempest offer wifi access for $19.95 per day and Kingston Airport provides access from the British Airways Lounge.
At Grantley Adams Int’l Airport in Barbados free wifi is offered to all passengers.
A list of all the hotels that advertise free wifi can be found at this Tripadvisor page.
You can also access a list of other areas where free-wifi is offered in Barbados here.
If you are planning to hit the Bahamas this year then check out free Wifi at Nassau International Airport via a company called Batelnet.
Antigua and Barbuda
In the departure lounge after you leave security at Antigua – V.C. Bird International Airport there is also free wifi.
In the Dominican Republic, Free-hotspot.com has compiled a list of places where you can acess wifi for free.
When sailing the seven seas
What about the days when you feel like taking your speed-boat out to sea for a spin, in true Roman Abramovich style? Abramovich himself demands wireless internet (among other things) on his boat trips and why shouldn’t you?
Two Main options: getting access to the Internet whilst sailing the seven seas.
One is the impressive but expensive Satellite option such as Moto Sat provided by Caribbetech.
The next more affordable option is to sign up for wifi access at your local marina and use a high gain external antenna to improve the signal enough to make it usable for your iPhone.
This page on hothothotspot.com details all the marinas in the Caribbean area that allow wifi access but do remember you have to pay for all of these. The hothothotspot package is good because with one subscription ($50 for one month), users can use any hotspot within their network. So you could sail from Falmouth harbour in Antigua and use the wifi spot within range of their until you get within range of prickly bay in Grenada and your iPhone would automatically log on to that network without any change in settings!
Hopefully this guide should help iPhone users… relax. You can have it all: sun, sea, sand and even the ability to check Digg.com.