A guide to sending and receiving email while on vacation on Tobago
Electronic communication is changing rapidly on Tobago. Just a few years ago, sending and receiving email was major grief. Now, all the big hotels provide facilities for guests and every village frequented by visitors has an Internet cafe - although this latter description is used with considerable poetic licence.
If you are considering taking your own laptop, you will need to know that the TT telephone system utilises the small RJ11 socket used throughout North America. This type of plug is supplied as standard on most modem cables, but UK users may need to take a converter. If the phone in your room doesn’t have a data port, you should be able to plug the modem directly into the wall socket.
Not every visitor is a sad as me, lugging around a laptop (actually, two in our case, as we both write articles and need a backup in case of machine failure - a lesson learned during our 2004 trip). However, many of you will want or need to check email. Many of the larger hotels now provide facilities - but it is important to establish whether your home ISP provides webmail access to your account and remember to take details of the webmail address and your username and password.
If you do not have facilities at the hotel, all is not lost. Internet cyber cafés are springing up all round the island and even in small villages. ADSL broadband is now firmly established on the island and available throughout the south-west of the island, with limited service in the more remote areas.
One of the fastest cyber cafes I am aware of is M&G Photography in the Mall, in Scarborough. They also have facilities for downloading from digital cameras, so you can kill two birds with one stone. There are several others in the town and I am reliably informed that J-Puter Tech in uptown Scarborough is a good choice, although the Scarborough Cyber Café is supposed to be a tad cheaper. There is a small cyber café at Crown Point airport and a popular choice is the Clothes Wash Café in Store Bay Road, Crown Point, (halfway between the Coco Reef Resort and the Pigeon Point junction). This is a combined launderette and Internet cafe (the mind boggles - careful where you put the detergent).
The local telephone company and ISP, TSTT, have now launched a 56Kbps dial-up service for visitors. No account or registration is necessary - you simply create a new dial-up account on your laptop, to dial the number 619-3279, then enter EASY in the username box. No password is required. All done! The cost of TT$0.75 (approx £4/US$7.50 per hour) is added to the telephone account of the number you are dialling from. This is very much more expensive than normal local dial-up accounts and it is obviously important to obtain the consent of the property owner.