GPRS without BIS on a Blackberry

There exists a definite hype surrounding Blackberry devices. Now many may argue that the hype is well warranted as Blackberry devices are the pinnacle of mobile engineering. To which I simple say “No they are not!!” Their secure and reliable services are definitely a plus however their device hardware is a significant let down for ‘some users’. The cost of their blackberry internet service also makes it unviable for a number of users.
That being said I still see a number of people itching to buy a blackberry handset in the hopes of seamlessly accessing the net. Many of my peer group have bought one or planning to buy one as they believe it offers them a desktop-like email experience and keeps them connected from a social-networking standpoint. Is that true? Well yes and no.
Blackberry devices are certainly a lot more powerful and feature rich then they were two short years ago, however what many don’t account for is the added expense of the Blackberry Internet Service. Without BIS you will not be able to use most of the Blackberry services and features. A vast majority of the Blackberry tailored apps requires a fully functional BIS in order to work. Even the core functionality of email will not function without it. Keep in mind that BIS rentals are usually significantly higher then your regular GPRS / data rentals and it is this steep monthly rental that keeps many people from opting for it.
Another issue (probably more relevant to emerging markets) is that Blackberry internet services are rarely offered on prepaid plans. This means that if you are a prepaid subscriber and have bought a shiny new blackberry specifically for your email/IM/social networking then what you have is a rather expensive paperweight. You could always switch to postpaid, activate BIS and cough up the monthly rental and never miss an email or status update again.
I however do not fall into that category. I do not want to be always connected and have work follow me where ever I go. As I am not the type to spend many hours browsing, chatting of emailing from my phone I did not see the point in activating BIS. Unfortunately for me (and many others out there) my telecom operator does not support GPRS on blackberry. Had I been using any other phone GPRS activation would be a snap but not on the Blackberry. Essentially ‘they’ want you to use BIS, that’s where the money is at.
There is a workaround however you would be limited to using a third party browser and no blackberry applications support. I have used Opera mini (4.2 and 5) however I believe the Bolt browser also works. First activate GPRS on your SIM card. Then go to your access point settings and type out the access point settings for your operator. Install the browser from your comp or download it OTA via WIFi. Once installed the browser will attempt to connect using the edited access point details. If it does not work try a battery pull. Switch the phone back on and try again. This worked for me and I am now able to browse on my Blackberry (8820). I can’t use the G-talk/Facebook or even the built-in browser however I can go to any website or check my email on the fly. It’s good enough for the casual user and let’s face it, most of our personal emails are spam or forwards anyway. If anyone figures out how to get a chat app to work without BIS do let me know. Remember consider your usage patterns before buying a Blackberry device. Hope this was helpful.

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