Interesting and Annoying

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I’ve been playing around with the Blackberry Pearl that I received yesterday. It has a slick interface (once you get used to the little track ball navigation method) that is growing on me. But here’s the thing that has me a bit peeved. I think I have to pay extra to use the data features. Typically my unlimited subscription to Cingular’s Media Net plan allows me to surf and email with all the GSM phones I test. Not so with the Blackberry 8100. When I try to use the browser, I get an error saying that I don’t have any browser configuration service book entries and to contact my service provider to enable the browser on the device.

After several back and forth emails to Dave Rees (a Blackberry guru), he’s come to the conclusion that I have to subscribe to a $30/mo. BIS (Blackberry Internet Service) plan in order to use the data features on this particular phone. Anyone know any different? This is a Cingular locked phone. Maybe if there’s a way to unlock it, I would then be able to use the data features? I don’t want to do the push email, just surf and pop email. If you have some advice, please post :o)

11 thoughts on “Interesting and Annoying”

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  2. Hi Julie, I use a Pearl down here in Ozz and it is true, to do any data (email, web, etc) you need to have a BB data plan and that includes your push email function. My Pearl is unlocked and I swacked a GSM SIM in and have the same issue you do.. Lucky for me I’m getting BES (Coprorate version of BIS) BB service through the company I work for installed.

    Something else to note, if you put BIS on your SIM and move it to another phone you may have difficulty with it. I put my old BB SIM in a Nokia series 40 and immediately lost all memory on the phone! Not sure why, but weird..

    One interesting issue with the Pearl, is that when the phone is ringing/vibrating, if you jostle it or touch the ‘pearl’ it will go into non ring/vibrate mode. So be careful when the thing is in your pocket and it rings, you may miss calls.. Haven’t figure out how to deal with that one yet.. 🙂


  3. Julie,

    You won’t be able to use the included browser unless you buy the BIS data plan. But you may as well download the Opera Mini browser and use your Cingular plan. With your Cingular plan you can also download and use JiveTalk, that is a universal IM client.

    There are a lot of posts detailing what you need to input on your APN settings for Cingular at Pinstack forums that is the largest public forum for BlackBerry.

    The settings are located on the options icon, then on advanced settings and on TCP. There you have to input:

    APN: wap.cingular
    User Name: [email protected]
    Password: CINGULAR1

    The wap.cingular APN is the official Cingular recommended APN. An alternate configuration is an APN of “isp.cingular” with username “[email protected]” and password of “CINGULAR1”.

    And don’t worry, you will have EDGE speed.

    More information can be had at:


  4. Raul:

    Thanks for the info. I was actually on that site yesterday. I was reading though that if you use the opera browser that it won’t use your media net plan and you will get charged for data. Do you know if that’s true?

  5. The answers to your data issue seems consistent and disappointing. You have to have a BB plan to do anything other than use your device as a phone.

    Here’s why. Blackberry or RIM is configured to be the middle man when it comes to data delivery. It’s how they make their money – and how they could deliver email instantly, securely etc. back when Cingular and Sprint could barely deliver web pages on their phones. RIM made the investment in infrastructure and built a system so that ever single peice of data delivered to their phones comes through their system.

    Three years ago and before – that was a reasonable (although expensive) paradigm – and since their target market was corporations (who have tons of $$ for such IT expenditures) and there was no competition – it worked well for them. Also – their largest clients tend to be governments (Everyone in Congress has one etc) so the security promised by RIM and their “independence” from a single carrier was appealing

    Now that MS has refined their Direct Push delivery – and have distributed it to everyone else (the Palm 650 just got it yesterday, the 680 and 7XX’s have had is, as does Nokia w/ E61/E62) RIM’s data system looks a lot more awkward.

    RIM is trying to expand their marketshare by targeting consumers – with the “easier” trackball feature, cameras on the phones (which was a BIG change for them) and music functionality – but I think they are handicapped by their high priced data plans and their dependence on their own systems to serve the data. Unfortunately, you are seeing it first hand.

    The worst part is – of all the phones I’ve owned (and I’ve had many) – I have to say the Blackberries I’ve had have been the best. Battery life is incredible. They are built like tanks. Sound quaility and signal reception is top notch. They make great phones – but they really are the Macintosh of the wireless world. Great hardware but just enough non-mainstream to create some real frustrations.

  6. I re-read your initial post Julie – and just to clarify – the service book they refer to is the provisioning that is done in Canada by RIM. It’s what the phone looks for when it goes out to make a data connection.

    I’ve never heard of being able to bypass RIM’s data system as GB describes – but if you were to do it, you’d definitely need a 3rd party tool like Opera. Also – if it’s described in Pinstack – then it’s possible. That is pretty much the de-facto expert user group for anything BB.

    Don’t bother with any unlocking. All that would do is allow you to use another carrier’s SIM – but it is still configured in the hardware to look for the service book when doing anything data related.

  7. As noted above, you need the BIS to use data on the Blackberry. It’s well worth it in my opinion.

    I somewhat agree with Mike. MS’s direct push might be fine for the corporate world but I still find it unusable for consumer purposes, plus it doesn’t play nice with Mac OS. But Blackberries are really well made and the battery life is ridiculous, especially compared to Nokia. My 6682 would crap out after 18 hours of “polling” email, the Pearl keeps going strong with constant data use for several days.

    I hate Windows mobile so so much (buggy!), Series 60 is laggy and the qwerty devices aren’t compelling, and Palm is as good as dead in my opinion.

    The email experience is incredible and it arrives faster on my Blackberry than it does on my MacBook.

    In response to Trvling Drew, the ringing issue was solved almost immediately after the initial production with a software update. With any software revision except the initial one moving the pearl doesn’t stop the vibrate or ring tone. (I still find the vibrate too weak sometimes though)

  8. I’m almost ready to pull the trigger and sign up for BIS just so I can get the full experience with this phone. But I wonder if I do that and then take the SIM out of the BB and put it in my Treo 680, will I be able to still do data? What if I turn off Media Net and just have BIS? Will that mean I can’t use data on any phone BUT a Blackberry? Hmmmmm….

  9. Cingy should be able to explain that stuff to you. One “advantage” of Blackberry provisioning is that the first line tech support generally can’t help you – they have to kick you up to a dedicated team of folks that typically have a complete understanding of the whole scope of things.

    Unfortunately, I never tried to swap SIMs into anything else while my BIS plan was active – only because the BB beat anything else I had so there was no reason to. If it wasn’t for my company’s desire to phase out BB for WinMobile (the BB exchange server fees are pretty pricey)

    You might also poke around on Cingular’s site. They have a customer forum – that used to be pretty accessible, but now is kind of hidden – but they can be pretty helpful when it comes to specific Cingular / BB issues. Also Howard Forums has a dedicated Cingular forum that might have the answer to your data question.

  10. Julie,

    Please don’t sign for the BIS data plan! If you just want to test the phone, keep your data plan with Cingular. I’m subscribed to the BIS data plan because it is cheaper here in Mexico with Telcel ($27 USD per month) than a traditional data plan ($50 USD for 50 MB per month). But I can use my GPRS and EDGE plan using Opera Mini if I want, but they will charge me for every KB (about 1 cent).

    Please read the forums at Pinstack. Most of the people there surf the net with Opera Mini and are not subscribed to the BIS plan, as their data plan is cheaper than the BIS plan for Cingular (or so I thought). Or are subscribed to both plans. I’d love to use Opera Mini or the IM clients, but it is very expensive for me. But for you, you can easily use your data plan to fully enjoy the BB experience.

    What I don’t know is how to receive e-mails with your data plan. But I’m sure somebody here or at Pinstack can answer that question.


  11. Noticed in your Jawbone review you indicated you had it paired w/ your Pearl.

    I’m sure a review is forthcoming (?) – but just wondered how you resolved the data / dataplan issue? wondered what your workaround was or if you were just doing w/o data.


  12. Mike:

    I went ahead and sprung for the BIS dataplan ($34.99/mo.) for at least this month so I could fully test the Blackberry :o)

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