Before you go out and purchase the latest Blackberry smartphone running their latest OS version 6.0, hang on to your credit card or wallet and read this article.
You may not know it, but Blackberry OS 6 has some modified security settings that your network may not be wise to yet. This means that if your network has not upgraded these settings, you will not be able to use a BB OS 6 device with that network’s BIS service.
Months ago when the Blackberry 9800 Torch first arrived in the country, I remember discussing with a staff at MTN who mentioned that they could not get the device to work on the MTN network for their BIS subscribers. Eventually, MTN sorted it out and that is history with them.
A few weeks ago, my wife got her first Blackberry smartphone for use on the Airtel network. It was a 9650 Bold running version 5, but upgradeable to version 6.0. Of course, I did an upgrade for her.
After sending the specified Airtel BIS activation codes, having her money deducted but no active BIS service, Dayo and I headed to an Airtel centre to sort things out. At the centre, the activation was done but we still could not get anything to work on my wife’s 9650.
Suddenly, I remembered this issue and decided to try out an experiment. We got another Blackberry device running OS version 5 and popped in her SIM. In a few minutes, her SIM was registered on the BIS service and all connections active.
Putting the SIM back in her 9650, she got intermittent service for a few days, then BIS simply stopped working. I tried out both Glo and MTN SIM cards with active BIS on the same handset without any issues. I finally explained to her that the problem was likely to be an incompatibility between Airtel’s BIS service and Blackberry OS version 6 and that if she wanted to enjoy BIS service on her network, I would have to downgrade the device back to version 5.
After a quick downgrade, her 9650 restarted and BIS was activated immediately, further buttressing my suspicion. It was on her 9650 that I made the test purchase on Blackberry’s App World last night. She’s had BIS service active since.
An Appeal to Airtel
Airtel, kindly take a look at your BIS configuration to see if you can’t modify what’s necessary so that your subscribers can use the latest features available from Blackberry.
In the meantime, it may be best for BIS subscribers to stay away from Blackberry OS 6 devices if you are on the Airtel network – or stay away from the Airtel BIS service if you are gunning for a Blackberry OS 6 device.
Update: 12th February 2011
My further experiments suggest that the issue is not OS 6 per se, but devices that come with OS 5 but were upgraded to OS 6. My recommendation is that if you want to use OS 6 without issues, purchase a device that has it pre-installed from the factory.
We know for sure that Blackberry OS 6.0 devices work without issues on both MTN and GloMobile. We have no information on Etisalat at this time.
PS: We have been able to test and confirm that BB OS6 works without issues on Eisalat as well.