I used to really think that Wi-Fi on a BlackBerry would be the coolest thing since sliced bread, however, the more I think about it the more I wonder just how useful Wi-Fi on a BlackBerry really is.
The SlingPlayer Mobile Client that is coming out for BlackBerry will be kind of cool, but, beyond that, what real advantages will Wi-Fi give you on your BlackBerry?
A RIMarkable reader sent us an email over the weekend asking why I haven’t made a big deal about the new Wi-Fi enabled BlackBerrys that have come out, or, are coming out. I guess that the question I have in return is if having Wi-Fi on a BlackBerry something to make a big deal about.
Maybe I am biased because my carrier offers no BlackBerrys with Wi-Fi. Maybe I am overlooking some obvious benefit. If I am, let me know about it in the comments.
Sprint’s EV-DO network is pretty fast in my experience, so I don’t think Wi-Fi is a big deal there. But it’d be nice to tap into a faster Wi-Fi connection, say at the office, if you’re stuck using EDGE.
The way I see it: as long as I’m near a wireless broadband source, it’d be great to be able to take advantage of it.
Yeh we (Verizon users) are spoiled with our carriers fast-as-hell EVDO so WiFi isnt really a gain over what we have by default…
I can see where it would be beneficial for carriers like T-Mobile who don’t even have 3G (yet).
I personally never had wifi until I just got the Bold from Verizon. I previously had the Tour but after having problems with it and getting 4new/refurbished phones they upgraded me to the Bold. I don’t like the idea of having to connect to wifi instead of just going to my brower and going from there. Looks like i need to find a way to constantly stay connected. Does anyone know of a way to stay connected all the time? Not a happy camper currently…
I am in the same boat as you, David, as my BlackBerry runs on Verizon. If you did, however, have a BlackBerry running on EDGE, what would you use the Wi-Fi for.
In my experience, there is really nothing that the BlackBerry does well that it really needs broadband speed to do better.
What am I missing?
Maybe I am stating the obvious but wouldn’t web browsing be much better over Wi-Fi than over Edge?
I have a TMO Curve, and have found the wifi to be useful–but mainly for international travel. When on the road if I have wifi I’ll often turn off the cell connection and then make free phone calls using UMA. (No need to subscribe to TMO’s “@home” service; if you don’t you can still use wifi for calls, it just uses up your minutes…)
Yeah, for those on TMO, the free calls over WiFi are a biggie. I have had a very positive experience using the @home service, so the WiFi is less about browsing than it is unmetered calling. I prefer using the cell connection for browsing, as even EDGE seems fast enough for the things I use my BB browser for, and since TMO charges a flat rate for data, I have never worried about bandwidth caps or the like.
How much does T-Mobile@Home cost. I keep forgetting about about UMA. If you make a lot of phone calls from your BlackBerry at home, I could see this being a plus.
As far as web browsing on your BlackBerry goes, I look at it like this.
Surfing the web on your BlackBerry is like watching a football game on an old 7 inch black and white tv with a flickering picture tube. Hooking WiFi up would be like hooking your hi-def cable or dish up to that same crappy tv.
I have t-mobile and the wifi feature is awesome! if im in class or anywhere where i dont have service and there is wifi available, i turn on the wifi and boom full signal!
I believe TMo @Home is $10 a month. But if you don’t use a lot of minutes (I have 1000 and never come close, what with unlimited evening and weekends), there is no need to pay that. If you don’t pay it the minutes just come from your bucket of minutes. If you do pay the extra $10, they don’t count towards your bucket…
I have the Curve on t-mobile with my plan of 300 minutes, I average about 1200 minutes/month, I’ve yet to go over my limit and I have no home phone. The wi-fi option is great for voice and to tether my laptop at Starbucks, at least until 2009 when that changes.
As far as browsing goes the wi-fi is not much of a benefit. Until RIM can provide a better browser all the speed in the world is not going to help. I’ve installed opera mini but never got it to work successfully.
So for the T-Mobile at home the wi-fi option is great but beyond that I don’t see any compelling reason to have a wi-fi enabled phone.
Does anyone know if AT&T has something like T-Mobile @Home. I am a small business owner and about half of my employees work remotely. I currently supply them with a BlackBerry, Business Line, and Internet access, however, I could probably save a few grand per month by getting rid of the business lines if they could just use their BlackBerrys for an extra 10 bucks per month over the internet.
I’ve had a WiFi device for a while and my plan is not paid by my employer. The advantage for me is that since I am within WiFi access at least 95% of the time (home and work) I can stay on a lower data plan. I’ve never really looked into it, but I assume my carrier (Rogers) isn’t charging me for data going over WiFi.
You may be a little biased, but, I don’t think that bias is blatant in this particular post. You ask a very good question. “Is Wi-Fi on a BlackBerry a big deal?”
I think the answer is a qualified yes. It probably doesn’t really benefit the vast majority of those who actually have it, but, for some, the @home represents a significant cost savings and they would think it is a huge benefit.
For those who claiming that having wifi would make surfing faster on EDGE networks, reviews of the new 8120 from ATT show little difference when using whif or edge. Here is the quote from a PC mag review.
RIM’s Web browser is optimized for slow networks, so you don’t really see an increase in speed over EDGE
I used to question the need for WiFi on the Curve too, until I recently changed jobs. We don’t get coverage in the building, but we do have an open access point, so I can still use my cell 🙂
Admittedly before that, yea, I was all for RIM including GPS over WiFi on the Curve.
I have no need for WiFi. With EVDO, I can browse and tether to my laptop at great speeds. As I use an unlimited lan, no need for WiFi calling either. If I had TMO or ATT, I would definitely want the WiFi feature though. Otherwise it is just another radio.
It seems the consensus is that where there is no cell signal, of course WiFi is a big deal. Also, if you have a WiFi setup at home you can same some minutes. So where WiFi actually substitutes for your cell connection it may have use.
Outside of that WiFi on a BB is not a big deal. As others have noted, what the BB does, in terms of email and web browsing, is optimized for lower bandwidth connections. So where WiFi is there in addition to your cell connection, it’s no great improvement.
I have the Curve on TMO and it’s awesome. I live in an area that has ZERO cell reception, and since i work from home, having the @home service has allowed me to never miss a call. Plus, with some many hotspots popping up, making wifi calls and saving minutes is easy.
I left Spring (with Palm Treo 650) to go to TMO with the Wifi Curve. The only drawback is that Sprint’s cell reception is much better than TMO. I drop a lot of calls on TMO’s cell service in areas that i never dropped Sprint calls. But TMO’s customer service is much better than Sprint’s.
So yes, I think you are overlooking the benefit of Wifi on a cell phone.
Not a big deal for me personally, but it would come in handy if you needed to link in in order to access the phone to make calls inside a building that allows very little or no reception at all. UMA is a nice feature for a constant connection at work in very large buildings.
But my EVDO Rev. A via Verizon really eliminates any need on my end. But it would still be nice to have ‘just in case’. Why not…
I have the Curve on TMO and it’s awesome. I live in an area that has ZERO cell reception
Well that’s pretty stupid.
I left Spring (with Palm Treo 650) to go to TMO with the Wifi Curve. The only drawback is that Sprint’s cell reception is much better than TMO.
And yet you switched to go with a carrier that has no service in you area.
I drop a lot of calls on TMO’s cell service in areas that i never dropped Sprint calls. But TMO’s customer service is much better than Sprint’s.
Well hell, at least CS is better.
SO, two questions.
1) What is UMA
2) If getting the WiFi feature means service with TMobile, is that a bad thing? TMO customers, please respond.
The UMA feature is the best. I dont pay for the @home service but my wireless network at my house is always going to be stronger than my edge signal. Also, at my fairly rural lake house outside Atlanta, coverage is VERY spotty especially indoors, switch over to UMA though and the signal is perfect. I hadn’t thought about using the UMA feature for calls in Europe or otherwise abroad. So, if you can find a WiFi signal over there, it works just like in the States?
Let’s see here. T-Mobile is charging us $10 a month for VOIP service using our Wifi or someone else’s Wifi to access the internet to make calls. The Wifi calls are not made over T-Mobile’s cell network–but over wifi.
I have a wifi notebook computer, a wifi Zune player for which I pay no fees to anyone for wifi use. The notebook company does not send me a monthly bill for wifi use. Microsoft does not send me a monthly bill for wifi use.
This sounds like extortion–forced VOIP over TMobile. I would complain.
If nothing else, when you are on a call with a BlackBerry the data service is unavailable, which having wifi can resolve when available. Not saying you would need it often, but it sometimes helps when working “out of pocket”.
Obviously UMA with T-Mobile is where you will see the greatest benefit.
I don’t think that is exactly correct. You indeed are initiating your calls via VoIP, however, they eventually route through T-Mobiles network which allows you to connect to someone else’s landline or mobile phone on the other end.
Thanks for explaining this. Robb.
So, does the 8320 WIFI work even when there’s no phone service contract?
I just got an 8320 curve unlocked, and Im using it without a data plan, and it sucks because none of the applications seem to want to work over wifi! They all expect to work through a blackberry data plan or through the cell network. Its retarded. The only app I’ve found that worked over wifi was JiveTalk. Anybody else having this same problem and know of any other apps that will work over wifi? It’d be really great if i could find an rss reader that will work over wifi.
I have a question…. I have comcast internet, which means I have a 250GB bandwidth cap. I want to use the @home service so I do not have to pay for the minutes used. My question is… Does anyone know how much data is used per minute of calling over wifi? I use a bunch of internet with downloads of movies, music etc… I just want to make sure that I wouldn’t go over.
Does anyone know if I don’t need to pay for the roaming fee for international calls (in and out) if I connect my BB Bold via Wi-Fi? My carrier is AT&T.