Telephone and Fax Services
Placing calls to and from the U.S. Virgin Islands is easy and relatively affordable. As part of the U.S., the territory is usually not considered an international call, although you should check your long-distance plan before making any calls. The area code is 340, and calls can be made on pay phones, using calling cards, or on cellular phones. Major U.S. cellular phone companies provide service in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Cingular and Sprint have the best service. Check your wireless plan for information on roaming charges.
Things are more complicated in the British Virgin Islands. Historically, telecommunication rates in the BVI have been high; Cable & Wireless West Indies Ltd. and CCT Global Communications had a monopoly on landlines and cellular service respectively for many years. Between 2005 and 2007 the market was liberalized and rates have fallen considerably, although not to the level that many travelers are used to paying at home.
Before you travel to the BVI, contact your home cellular provider and find out what type of coverage they have in the BVI and what the rates will be. Find out if you can sign up for a temporary international roaming plan. It is much better to do this research before you travel rather than after you’ve landed in the BVI, and to find out if you need to make any special adjustments to your phone for it to work.
Some U.S. cell phones will pick up their home signal in certain parts of Tortola. Many people are able to pick up signals from cell phone towers on St. John along the Sir Francis Drake Highway heading west on Tortola, from the area of the West End Ferry Dock, and even from parts of Virgin Gorda.
If you can’t or don’t want to use your cell phone and need to make an overseas call you can also dial 800/CALL-USA (800/225-5872) and charge the call to your credit card. You can also purchase a World Talk calling card from LIME and use it to make calls from landlines, pay phones, and mobiles.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Virgin Islands, 4th edition