Blackberry OS6 with Airtel Nigeria BIS

Posted by Mister Mobility

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.

Other Networks?

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.

19 comments

  1. @Yomi: Based on personal experience and insider information, the BB OS6 works quite well on the Airtel network (barring the webkit browser memory crash on upgraded OS 6 devices-devices that didn’t ship with OS6)…the usual suspect in time past were service books issues, however if pre-upgrade to Os 6, the device back up is properly carried out then the device should handle well on Airtel BIS. When upgrade is done, go to options>Device>Advance System Settings>Host Routing Table>Click the option button>Register Now>ok. After this, do a battery pull. This should take care of the issue.

  2. S. When upgrade is done, go to options>Device>Advance System Settings>Host Routing Table>Click the option button>Register Now>ok. After this, do a battery pull. This should take care of the issue.

    Thanks, Veritas. We did execute that procedure with no results.

  3. Different strokes though…as I am rocking Os6 on 9700 with Airtel BIS…will revert back with any update.

  4. @Yom: Here is a write-up (a lengthy one though) with regards to Os6 upgrade culled from crackberry.com…perhaps, this could help.

    Updating to OS6 and want everything to work? Read this first…

    ——————————————————————————–

    If you plan on updating to OS6 either via a full wipe or an upgrade, do yourself a favor and backup your OS5 servicebooks first.

    Background: Back in August I bought a Torch 9800 and unlocked it to use on T-Mobile. I realized pretty quick that a lot of its features didn’t work over the cellular network. No problem, i’ve been getting these things to work on unsupported networks for years so I wrote up my original guide and posted it in the 9800 forum the next day to help other unlockers. Fast forward a month and I see OS6 builds getting leaked and people having the same browser issues so I figured i’d post my method here to try and help everyone. This method actually works for any phone so when the Storm3 is released and I unlock it this is the method i’ll use to get it working on T-Mobile.

    A number of other sites are now using my guide, I think thats great, but at least link back to these original instructions. Thanks.

    After updating to OS6 some of you might find that your Browser, Twitter, Facebook etc do not work over the cellular network.

    (As of 09/22/2010 there are reports that Verizon are now pushing the correct servicebooks for OS6. For now, until it’s fully confirmed, I would still recommend making the OS5 servicebook backup prior to updating but if you’ve already upgraded you might be in luck and avoid all this downgrade/upgrade trouble)

    Follow these steps PRIOR to updating to OS6 just to be safe, depending on your carrier or the method of upgrading you might not need this but if you do it’ll save you a lot of headaches. This will Backup ALL of your servicebooks (not just the ones that RIM allows DM to backup) to restore onto OS6 if you find things don’t work.

    Trust me, 9800 OS6 leaks have caused some 507 errors during the upgrade process, I learned the hard way as it happened to me which is why I came up with this guide, if you take the few minutes to make this backup it’ll save you a lot of upgrading/downgrading headaches. A few minutes prevention so-to-speak.

    My method uses Legacy Servicebook Restore Mode. This mode lets the blackberry load unsigned servicebooks and allows them to survive the bootup security check without being deleted.

    Scenario #1: Still on OS5 (Desktop Manager 5 works, not sure about 6. If you use DM6 and know the steps please post them.)

    This is the best scenario.

    1. Start with an OS5 device on your carriers network, Register on the network and push your servicebooks to ensure you have the latest (I used a T-Mobile 9700)
    (THIS IS CRITICAL, make sure your OS5 device is active on your network. You will not have the necessary Browserconfig SB if you skip this step and therefore still won’t be able to surf the web. Do not skip this even if it seems pointless, activate your old blackberry!. Some people skipped it and wondered why the process didn’t work…)

    2. Go into options, advanced, servicebooks – HOLD THE ALT KEY and type SBEB. This will enable Legacy servicebook restore mode which allows you to backup/restore ALL of your servicebooks (Not just the ones RIM allows you to backup).

    3. In Desktop Manager, plug in your phone, go to backup-restore/advanced, on the right hand side select the servicebooks on your phone and press the “Left Arrow” to copy them to your PC. On the left hand side highlight the newly copied servicebooks, click file/save and name them something, OS6-Servicebook.ipd for example, and save the file to the desktop. You’ve just made a COMPLETE BACKUP of your carriers servicebooks.

    Now install/update to OS6 and if your browser doesn’t work, enable Legacy servicebook restore mode in OS6 (alt+sbeb) and copy the OS6-Servicebook.ipd back onto your phone using Desktop Manager Backup-Restore/Advanced (step #3 reversed)

    Scenario #2: Updated to OS6 and Browser doesnt work (Desktop Manager 5 works, not sure about 6)

    (a) if you have another blackberry that still has OS5 go ahead and activate it, make sure everything is working and follow steps 1, 2 & 3.

    (b) If you don’t have another blackberry you’ll have to downgrade to OS5, make sure everything is working on OS5 then follow steps 1, 2 & 3. (this is a pain but it will futureproof you for further leaks).

    1. Start with an OS5 device on your carriers network, Register on the network and push your servicebooks to ensure you have the latest (I used a T-Mobile 9700)
    (THIS IS CRITICAL, make sure your OS5 device is active on your network. You will not have the necessary Browserconfig SB if you skip this step and therefore still won’t be able to surf the web. Do not skip this even if it seems pointless, activate your old blackberry!. Some people skipped it and wondered why the process didn’t work…)

    2. Go into options, advanced, servicebooks – HOLD THE ALT KEY and type SBEB. This will enable Legacy servicebook restore mode which allows you to backup/restore ALL of your servicebooks (Not just the ones RIM allows you to backup).

    3. In Desktop Manager, plug in your phone, go to backup-restore/advanced, on the right hand side select the servicebooks on your phone and press the “Left Arrow” to copy them to your PC. On the left hand side highlight the newly copied servicebooks, click file/save and name them something, OS6-Servicebook.ipd for example, and save the file to the desktop. You’ve just made a COMPLETE BACKUP of your carriers servicebooks.

    Now install/update to OS6 and if your browser doesn’t work, enable Legacy servicebook restore mode in OS6 (alt+sbeb) and copy the OS6-Servicebook.ipd back onto your phone using Desktop Manager Backup-Restore/Advanced (step #3 reversed).

    Rebewt and bob’s ur uncle, working for all carriers. (if MMS is still tiny, it’s bc the phone isn’t identified on the network as a supported device).

    Scenario #3: Updated to OS6 and everything works perfectly (Desktop Manager 5 works, not sure about 6)

    Now is the time to be preventive and backup your servicebooks for future leaks/updates, just incase something goes wrong!

    1. Go into options, advanced, servicebooks – HOLD THE ALT KEY and type SBEB. This will enable Legacy servicebook restore mode which allows you to backup/restore ALL of your servicebooks (Not just the ones RIM allows you to backup).

    2. In Desktop Manager, plug in your phone, go to backup-restore/advanced, on the right hand side select the servicebooks on your phone and press the “Left Arrow” to copy them to your PC. On the left hand side highlight the newly copied servicebooks, click file/save and name them something, OS6-Servicebook.ipd for example, and save the file to the desktop. You’ve just made a COMPLETE BACKUP of your carriers servicebooks.

    IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE YOUR SERVICEBOOK FILE PUBLIC FOR OTHER USERS, MAKE SURE YOU DELETE YOUR PERSONAL EMAIL SERVICEBOOKS (AND ANY OTHER PERSONALLY IDENTIFYING INFORMATION) BEFORE YOU MAKE THE BACKUP OR USE A PROGRAM LIKE MAGICBERRY TO EDIT THE .IPD FILE.

    Remember, DM does not backup all of your servicebooks, only certain ones, the only way to back up ALL of them is to follow my instructions. Don’t assume that because 1 upgrade worked flawlessly that all others will too.

    Thanks to “duck383” for these Desktop Manager 6 instructions.

    To get the service books using Desktop Manager 6 (Enable Legacy Servicebook Restore Mode first, alt+SBEB)

    1). load DM
    2). on left side select DEVICE
    3). Device Options
    4). Select Custom, select Service Books
    Desktop Manager will save SB”s to the same folder as the directory folder selected when backing up phone and thats all there is to it

    **DM-6 note**
    After saving the service books be sure to do the reverse and set the selection back to FULL (or your selection) instead of custom or next time you do a backup it may not save correctly as it may still be set to SB’s only

  5. Is OS 6.0 now available for the 9700? I had tried updating my mum’s phone but could only update to O.S 5.144 (not too sure about the figures after the decimal).

    Any thoughts?

  6. Hi Tobias,

    OS 6.0 is not officially available for the 9700 yet. Unofficial versions are flying around the web though. I recommend that you wait for the official update.

  7. The best is for it to work straight out of the box, Airtel should just resolve it.

    If others can, they sure can too.

  8. I just upgraded my BB9300 to os6 on Airtel and all services are working fine except twitter.

    Maybe Airtel has resolve this error or I was just lucky.

    I have also observed that Airtel BIS is very slow on both os5 & 6. Can someone please recommend a better service provider.

  9. Bought my torch 9800 2 days ago, sent the codes, money’s been wiped out, no active BIS.
    I just surfing the net now to see if I can download the so called service books…annoying.
    I mean annoying!

  10. i wish i saw this b4 i activated on airtel. since sartuday they have not been able to connect me. they keep saying 24hours. am going back to my mtn now.

  11. Why can’t airtel get things Wright with this os6 problems. My friend just got a bold 9700 with os6 pre-installed but he made a mistake by subscribing to airtel bis plan through out the whole day we’ve been calling their customer care with no result from them

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