We created quite a "Storm" the last time we talked about BlackBerry. We said it over and over again in the write-up that we love BlackBerry phones, but hate some of the pricing structures and restrictions that Indian network operators have forced upon us. Do you already own a BlackBerry and now feel that its services are of no great use to you? Or, are you adamant to buy only a BlackBerry cell phone but don't want to cough up the monthly charges? The following info is of good use to you then. But before that, let's clear up the air about how BlackBerry phones work with mobile Internet.
First things first. If you've joined this wave in between and seem confused, read our earlier article on BlackBerry here.
Now, older BlackBerry phones (for example, the 7000 series or phones with an OS prior to BlackBerry OS 3.8) could only rely on their special service for any kind of data exchange -- be it Internet browsing, push e-mail or any 3rd party application. BlackBerry's service works on the typical GPRS mobile Internet that all other phones use.
But since BlackBerry OS 3.8, they gave the users an option to configure the phone with typical GPRS settings (or TCP settings). Most newer BlackBerry phones (like the Curve 8520/8900 and Bold 9000/9700 etc.) support the use of 3rd party apps over regular GPRS without subscribing to BlackBerry's Internet service. So, follow these steps in order to get it working on your BlackBerry.
1) Update your BlackBerry OS to the latest version
As I mentioned before, it is only after BlackBerry OS 3.8 that BlackBerry allows you to input regular GPRS settings. So, if you have a device running anything older, update your OS by connecting the phone to your PC, running the BlackBerry Desktop Manager software that came with the phone, and updating the OS.
2) Choose a regular GPRS plan
You may not want to subscribe to BlackBerry's monthly plans, but you will have to activate typical GPRS service nonetheless. Most operators have a pay-as-you-go GRPS schemes without any rentals, where they charge you per KB. Typically, the rates are 10 paise / 10 KB. That's around Rs. 10 per MB. So, if you're going to sparingly use the Internet on your BlackBerry, such a scheme would be OK. But if you're going to actively use the Internet, better opt for a fixed monthly rental plan. For instance, Tata Docomo and Airtel offer 2GB per month for Rs. 99. In my experience, if you are moderately going to use Internet on a cell-phone, 100 to 256 MB per month should be sufficient. So, check with your operator for various data plans and select a suitable one.
3) Key in these settings on your BlackBerry
On your BlackBerry, in the main menu, click Options -> Advanced options -> TCP
You'll see three fields -- APN, Username and password. The "APN" is the Access Point Name. This is one of the settings that allows you to establish a GPRS connection with your service provider, and it's different for different providers. For example, Vodafone's APN in India is 'portalnmms', Idea's is 'Internet', Loop mobile's is 'www'. Most providers leave the username and password fields blank. So, all you need to find out is the APN for your cell-phone operator. You can also look up on their website, it'll mostly be in the "Value Added Services -> Mobile Internet" section. Look for "Manual GPRS settings". You'll find the APN as one of the mentioned settings there. Or better yet, just call their customer care and ask for it.