Will Wireless Carriers Charge For BlackBerry PlayBook Tethering?

As many of you know, the BlackBerry PlayBook, Research in Motion’s first tablet device, will be able to get onto the internet in 2 ways.  The first is Wi-Fi, which, is pretty self explanatory.  The second is via tethering with a BlackBerry device, however, the big question is if wireless carriers will charge for it?

When you think about it, there are over 50 million BlackBerry users out there.  Most of them don’t own a tablet device, but, my gut tells me that more than just a few are interested possibly in getting one.  If you already own a BlackBerry, a tablet that can use your BlackBerry to gain internet access when Wi-Fi isn’t available is a huge plus…  unless, of course, wireless carriers go and charge you a monthly fee for the convenience…

Will Research in Motion be able to work out deals with wireless carriers so that there will be no additional charge for using the BlackBerry PlayBook with your BlackBerry for free.  RIM has always said that the PlayBook is a companion device to the BlackBerry.  Will the PlayBook be a companion with an additional monthly fee is the big question…


  1. Norman R. says

    I think that for the Playbook to have a real shot, RIM, needs to work this out so that BlackBerry users don’t have to pay extra for Tethering. If they fail to do this, not having a model with a GSM, CDMA, or LTE radio in it will prove to be a huge misstep.

  2. Kells says

    I’d be willing to bet that Tethering won’t cost you anything. RIM could just build the ability into the Playbook and probably some sort of app that you install on the BlackBerry…

  3. ali says

    Well Lazaridis has stated a couple of times that u’d be using ur blackberry andd playbook on one data plan. They’ve stated numerous times that there vpn for both bes and bis is a competitive advantage. I’d be surprised if there was an extra charge

    • gquaglia says

      I’m sure there will, but not with the personal BIS. You will have to upgrade to the more expensive Enterprise plan which includes tethering.

  4. P.Dub says

    It would make sense for RIM to work things out so that Tethering would be included, but, this is RIM we are talking about so I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t even check with carriers to make sure that that it would be included.

  5. gquaglia says

    Yes they will. US carriers consider tethering to be an Enterprise feature and monetize on that. There is no free lunch here and RIM’s, again, stupid decision not to include a cell radio will come to bite them in the ass. There is no stopping the ipad at this point anyway.

  6. TeddyB says

    been a while since i posted

    from what i understand and read, the initial playbook will not come with carrier requirements and that tethering will be left for th carries of the phones.

    this just allows the option for apps to be developed for this OS (cough Tether) so i’m sure there will be a work around. i doubt rim would charge it, and since carries charge for everything, yea they will charge you if they catch you

  7. Thor says

    The device is only usefull if it comes with inbuild 3G/4G to access the web. A WiFi only version makes it just another nice toy getting dusty on my desk…

  8. DavidB says

    There WILL be a charge unless RIM is able to negotiate something AND build into the PlayBook a tethering scheme that ONLY works with a BlackBerry. I think they would be foolish to build such a capability such that it works with ANY smartphone (i.e. it tethers via BlueTooth), but that may be a concession RIM has to make in order to get it “free”. I say there WILL otherwise be a charge because now that TMO has instituted their tethering plan all the Big4 USA carriers charge extra for tethering.

    Personally, I think all the BlackBerry sites focusing on the carrier aspects of the PlayBook are missing the bigger PlayBook picture. STOP thinking of the PlayBook as a BlackBerry with a bigger screen and no keyboard. This is a whole new thing for RIM and it is of HUGE importance because it finally removes the carrier from standing between RIM and the end user. Up to know, you may think you’re a customer but you’re not, you are just a end user and RIM (it shows) has no loyalty or obligation to you, they must serve their carrier masters. But now with PlayBook, they can take a tentative step down the direct relationship path that has been SO successful for the likes of Apple and Dell. You will have a direct relationship with RIM now rather than a direct relationship with your wireless carrier and by proxy to RIM. I can’t stress how HUGE this could be, or how big a RISK it is for RIM. Sure, there will be cellular modules soon enough and then we will see subsidized PlayBooks and combo deals (special subsidy if you buy both a PlayBook and a BlackBerry and sign a long term cellular contract), but the initial focus SHOULD NOT INVOLVE cellular carriers. RIM needs to do everything in their power to build the sort of loyalty customers have to Apple, keeping the carriers between RIM and the users of their devices IMHO dooms RIM to eventual market irrelevance.

    • DavidB says

      So CANADA MAN, can you build a ChromeOS app that will tether to my BlackBerry? Sure, my cr48 came with 2 years of Verizon service for free, but that’s just 100MB per month and I get billed for over that and could burn through 100MB way too quickly. Would be awesome to be able to tether to BlackBerry and use it’s data pipe.

  9. Quincy G. says

    The tethering will more than likely be via Bluetooth. I currently do this with a Nokia N810 Internet Tablet and my Blackberry Bold 9700 on T-Mobile’s network. Most Blackberry’s along with most other high-end phones offer Bluetooth DUN, it is just that most users are not aware of it and are led to believe that they need to by a tethering software and plan ($$$) via the carrier to access it. I do use the app Tether on my Blackberry with an older PC to have a data access but in the case of my Nokia tablet once my wifi connection on the tablet is lost it automatically switches over to Bluetooth and my blackberry goes into Modem Mode and I am able to surf, do Skype etc. on it. The bottle neck in speed will be with the BT pairing but for the most part it is fast enough to watch video and get most data streams and because I am with a GSM carrier now, at least if I have 3G I can take and make calls while my phone is paired to both my Jabra earpiece and my Nokia tablet… RIM is smart to do this out the gate and like I said most users that are not tech savy end up paying for wifi- hotspot enablement or software to tether… and the carriers rake in the $$$.

  10. Richard W. says

    Hey Everyone,

    I was at a Telus presentation of the new Playbook, and it was stated that there would be 3 modes of access. WiFi, Tethering, and a Blackberry bridge. There were not too many details on this, but it seems that the Blackberry bridge would be the one that gets you out of the tethering issues. If you are bridged, you have a ‘view’ into your own BB, so the connections to Email, Calendar and browsing would seemingly be proxied through your BB and not show up as a tethered device, as I understood.

    I guess anything can change up until release day, but this had put my concerns to rest a little, as my tethering charges would be $15 CDN per MB on Bell.



  11. Tom C. says

    I bought a Playbook and am able to have internet access all the time. I can tether my phone to the Playbook easily and there is no additional monthly fee to do it. I use a Blackberry Curve 9300 phone with T-mobile and have a 5 gb data plan. I was able to set it up myself and the is no extra charge for tethering to the Playbook. It works great and I love it. Tethering gives me faster speed than the Blackbery Bridge.

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