Monday, November 19, 2007

WIFI in St. Thomas, USVI

We are currently anchored in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands in Long Bay just off the green Legislature Building near the US Coast Guard dock.

We arrived on Thursday just after midnight about 10 days ago to attend the VICL Charter Yacht Show. We hooked up our equipment to see what WiFi was available. BBW was the strongest signal followed by Choice HotSpot. We didn't have time to mess with it then and we went to bed early that night, but we checked signals and they were still good.

Friday morning we decided to subscribe to Choice as they are the providers of wireless TV and they are ISPs (used to be which should have sent out danger signals). Choice said that they have many hotspots so that would be handy when we change our anchorage. So, we got their signup page, gave them our credit card info and signed up online. After signing up, I tried accessing the internet. zip! I did manage to log into our wifi account to see if they gave us the correctly alloted time of one week for $25 and we were unable to do anything else. I had a partially loaded weather page and that was about it. We went to the boat show and planned to check our email back on the boat at lunchtime. We spoke to many charter yachts who also were having poor service (or lack of) and were not able to reach support. They also complained about Choice is in general.... No further internet access that day.

Saturday morning was the same. We decided to try BBW (Beans Bytes and Websites) hotspot as they are an internet cafe located on the waterfront at the Royal Dane Mall. They still had the strongest signal and since we planned to be "downtown" anchored in the same spot we decided to sign up with them for a week. You cannot register online, so we took the dinghy ashore and went into the coffee shop. I told the guy about our bad luck with Choice and even though they are NOT affiliated with Choice, he gave me a $5 discount as an apology. Amazing!

I believe BBW associates your subscription with your computer's MAC address, so be sure to initially log in with the computer you intend to use. You cannot use the same account with more than one computer. Our signal is picked up by our external bridge which is connected to our Router/ Access Point and then we access that signal with both of our MacBooks with our Airport cards. If we have a couple of leftover days on our account we cannot give it to another boat, which is too bad but so it goes...

We have had excellent service with BBW (a few slow periods but so much better than our SXM experience). We are still at anchor in Long Bay in a slightly different spot as the USCG had us move because the Disney cruise ship anchored but another boat then took our spot so why did we have to move??? so it goes...

Anyway, we have signed up for a second week, even though we hope to up anchor and sail over to Christmas Cove on Wednesday to have dinner with Marolanga and meet Sasha, their Persian cat. It will be so nice to go swimming. We'll probably also be testing our windvane self-steering gear on the way.

Oh yes, almost forgot. We signed up with Choice on Friday so we waited until Monday to call to discontinue service as we didn't expect any results over the weekend. I told the lady that I wanted a refund as we did not and could not use their WiFi and she gave me to support where I was on hold for so long that I had to leave a voice mail. Well, nothing became of the voice mail and I sent an email, and another, etc. By Wedneday, I said in an email that I would come to their office to get my refund. They actually answered my message and said that they would refund the unused portion of my subscription. I told them that I expected a full refund of $25 as I did not use them for the week. The next day they wrote back to say that they had refunded my credit card $24.15... Can you believe it? They kept 85 cents :)

So, in my opinion, do not choose Choice...

and thanks for your patience with my rant :)