Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) or the "Is it really free?" thread

oronte

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If I read another 'what's really free?' thread I'm going to scream. So if you're new to BIS read this and hopefully all your questions will be answered (updated from the Bold Tips Thread):

To begin I think it's best to answer the usual question of just what the limitations of the Bold are on BIS (if you're on BES check with your IT people to determine what your limitations are):
Here's what you will be charged for:
1. Using your phone as a modem with your PC (there is NO way around this, don't even think about it).
2. Using the network browser - in your browser go to options - Browser Configuration - the first option is browser make sure 'Internet Browser' is selected and not 'MTN' or 'Vlive' as you will be charged for the network browser. Also under the general options - advanced options - browser ensure that 'internet browser' is selected.
3. Many 3rd party apps that did not come with your phone will be charged for (assume they're charged until you've tested them). For example Opera Mini and the Bolt Browser and charged applications (but there is a way to force them to use BIS). An easy way to tell you're on 3G is the B icon next to the '3G' icon disappears (or your edge will be in small letters) when you initiate an internet connection with these applications (first load a page and quickly hit the red button to go to the home screen to check).
4. Streaming video and audio, eg. Youtube - any time your phone asks you if it can connect to WAP you will be charged.
5. Absolutely everything else is free - e-mail and attachments, all browsing and downloading done with the default internet browser, instant messaging via BB Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and Google Talk, any application that makes (or can make) use of BIS eg. Viigo, Google sync, Facebook.

Of course there are limitations:
1. Attachment limits: On your e-mail application you can't download any attachment larger than 2.9mb. When downloading a large e-mail attachment your device may tell you to contact your carrier about possible charges, happily there are no charges for this on MTN and Vodacom.
2. Downloads via the browser: This limit changes over time and is in no way fixed or guaranteed. It is different depending on the type of file you're downloading. For most files it's 5mb. PDF's are 2.9mb, certain larger multimedia files have lower limits, eg. MP3's can be 15mb. These limits are subject to change.
3. BIS does not use HSDPA presently, but does use 3G, it's a little slower than normal 3G because of the way BIS works but the phone's fast enough that if you're downloading something it won't slow anything else down. For browsing 3G is only slightly faster than EDGE.
4. Download sizes and speeds are, however, unlimited if you use the MTN or Vlive browsers or Opera Mini but you will be charged full data rates for doing so. These browsers also make full use of HSDPA, I've experienced downloads of up to 1mb/per second at peak time.
5. Browser Limitations - The BB Browser cannot execute Ajax at all so you can't, for example, use the full version of Gmail or Gcal, while the full Facebook page partially works but takes forever to load. Some websites need to have Javascript set off to work correctly others need Java to work at all. Happily when you add a website as a bookmark you can set per website whether Java is enabled or disabled. You can also set whether your browser is identified as Blackberry, Firefox, or IE and whether you use column or page view. This is less of a problem on OS5 and by the end of the year when the new browser is launched this problem should completely disappear.

Personally I prefer column view because reading text is easier but some pages work better in page view. The ability to set your browser identification is quite nifty - you can set your browser to identify itself as Firefox for those websites that automatically redirect you to their mobile editions when you'd prefer the full version. For those wondering about downloads it handles these quite well. You can press the back button when a download starts and it continues in the background and it can handle multiple downloads quite well - on 3G it's quite fast.
Once you get used to it the BB browser isn't bad at all and is on par with Opera Mini and Opera Mobile.

Useful Applications
To download these make sure your browser is identifying itself as Blackberry and not Firefox or IE.
1. Viigo - my personal favourite. The RSS reader built into the browser sucks, but this free app more than makes up for it and its really quick too. Please make sure from options - network is set to Bis-B and none of the other options (not even auto) to ensure free service on BIS.
2. Go to m.google.com and download a number of great free applications (finally having an American, okay Canadian, phone has its advantages).
3. Google Talk - let's you use your Mxit contacts and all of your instant messages go straight to your inbox and get saved to your Gmail account. Mxit also now uses BIS.
4. Vlingo - voice recognition software (not perfect, but getting there)
5. Opera Mini and Bolt - to force them to use BIS change your APN settings (in Advanced settings) to 'blackberry.net' and confirm that they're using BIS by quickly exiting (press and hold red button) and checking you still have a blinking 'B' icon. You can't do downloads with these apps through BIS, but you can have the downloads open in the Blackberry browser.

Tips
Change your APN settings (in Advanced settings) to 'blackberry.net' this will force most applications to use BIS, if they don't work then they can't use BIS. Note that Garmap and some other applications are able to circumvent this setting and use the network APN.
By disabling home screen dialing (from the phone app) most of the keys become shortcuts to apps.
Gmail can be used with Imap and will work correctly, if anyone wants to know I'll post the details here.
Yahoo Mail - Even though you normally have to pay for Yahoo Mail pop it's free on the Blackberry.
Don't bother with the over-the-air software upgrade it doesn't work at this point (you have to do firmware upgrades on a Windows PC).
If you're on MTN you get Garmap for free and on Vodacom you get Satnav (assuming your berry has GPS).
 
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bwana

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Great post.

Sticky'ed

It would be nice to have some confirmation and clarification, where necessary, from VodacomData.
 
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User4456

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Wow! thank you for this information it really helps me understand what's going on with my current contract.. its honestly difficult to come by this sort of experienced knowledge and from me.. it comes highly appreciated! To moderator, even further confirmation and/or clarification would be hugely valuable. I will be in a better position to recommend blackberry and BIS to friends and family. Thank you.
 

genetic

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To set the APN settings in the Blackberry 8900, go to Options -> Advanced Options -> TCP/IP -> then enable APN Settings Enabled -> then under APN: enter blackberry.net as the APN. (leave "APN Authentication enabled" off)
 
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oronte

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It's the same for all berries, however I've noticed with OS5 many applications can circumvent this setting.
 

Darkhaven

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Is there a way that you can force the applications not to bypass these settings as then if I am correct you will end up paying for that?
 

oronte

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No, you should uninstall them. Check for the capitals or B symbol.
 

SybRiN

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My data usage for feb month is already like R30 and seeing as i do not download anything from my phone i cant see how this is correct.

I am on vodacom and i have a bb 8520 curve.

I changed my apn now sooo lets hope that works, because i am tired of paying for something that i do not have to be paying for!
 

ph4t3

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Could you please explain to me how to set up IMAP (Gmail) for use with my blackberry curve 8520. I can't seem to get it right. Thanks.
 

bwana

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Could you please explain to me how to set up IMAP (Gmail) for use with my blackberry curve 8520. I can't seem to get it right. Thanks.
Have you enabled imap on your gmail account?
 

oronte

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It will be in a few months time (with the next update of BIS) but presently no. You have to use the browser or the gmail application to see your folders. If there are specific emails that you're looking for use the remote search feature in the enhanced gmail plugin to add them to your inbox.
 

krycor

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fyi, blackberry upgrade thingy is set for 28 march which will then support two way sync for gmail. (not sure about other services tho but its a start)
 

Tamerlane

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I have a blackberry and its bull****. and vodacom customer care is useless , sigh, super useless.All i wanted to use is Mxit, i must pay 59 rand a month to use mxit ? rather break the phone and throw it away,.
 

oronte

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Well no one's forcing you to use it. Why would you get a blackberry in the first place if all you want is mxit? You can get any cheap R500 phone to do that.
 

phoneJunky

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And you can use gtalk to mxit. You will then have to add all your contacts again
 

Gawain

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does the "free" browsing include say posting on myBB and other forums - since if it is I might upgrade my contract
 

oronte

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Read the first post again. I don't think it's ambiguous in any way...
 
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