The Hosted Blackberry Enterprise Server Thread aka "How To Make Your BlackBerry Better, Faster & More Reliable" [Original: Feb 13th, 2004]
[Edited: May 14th, 2005] ...Your carrier or BlackBerryOS does not support TCP/IP? ...Want Wireless PIM Synchronization? ...Want Better Attachment Viewing? ...Want faster web access on a Blackberry? ...Want online web banking on a Blackberry? ...Get 100+ MB email space, breaking the 10 MB barrier? ...Be able to download software Over-The-Air? Target audience
Blackberry Attraction? What's The Big Deal?
- Self employed indivudals.
- Individual users who just want to use a Blackberry to its fullest potential.
- Small corporations
- Deaf users who need the best wireless communicator
- People who want to bypass a slow BWC/BIS email server
First-time readers may be wondering what the hoopla is about. Blackberry phones have such good thumb keyboards and very good reliability. Email on Blackberry is generally vastly superior to everything else including other cellphones, other smartphones, PocketPC, PalmOS handhelds. Some invidual non-business users are starting to buy Blackberry because they really love its email; even if not as good for things like videogames. While not the Blackberry keyboard is much lauded to have an extremely good feel allowing some people to type as fast as 70 words per minute on a device that is smaller than a wallet. If Blackberry is so great for email, why shouldn't I also run other Internet applications on it like I can do on a PalmOS and PocketPC? An interesting piece of Blackberry history is that USA goverment prevented a USA company from shutting down the Blackberry network with a lawsuit [WashingtonPost.com link
] -- despite that Blackberry is a Canadian technology. This is surprising, considering relations between USA and Canada since 9/11 -- it does underscore how good and addictive Blackberries are. According to news articles, Blackberries were deployed throughout the federal government shortly after 9/11 and the anthrax evacuations, to improve communiations during crisis. Why Is MDS Required?
MDS means Mobile Data Services, which is explained on this web page
at Research In Motion. MDS is a feature of BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). The simplest english to the layman is that MDS essentially makes full Internet access possible on your Blackberry. Without access to MDS, it is almost as if you are behind "The Great Firewall" that blocks all ports except for email and WAP, limiting your ability to use your Blackberry. The original market for Blackberries are corporations, and this is why a server solution is marketed. A medium and larger size corporation generally has no problem getting a Blackberry Enterprise Server solution set up. However, these days, the Blackberry market is diversifying and there are now more and more individual and self-employed users of Blackberries, and do not need all of BES features. How do I get MDS?
If you're a big enough corporation, it's not a problem. You just need to buy a Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES)
. However, they are generally too expensive for sole individuals because they start at $995 for a 5-user license. Some discounts can be found through a reseller, but this still burns a huge hole in an individual's pocket. Not to mention, you will need a dedicated Internet connection at your home to run BES at home. Sometimes, a small group of people are so desparate that they have pooled their money and actually purchased BES to share amongst themselves. Today, now an easier option has cropped up: a hosting service! Just like buying inexpensive web hosting instead of having an expensive T1/T3 to your home, you can finally now get BES hosting today. Surprise! Preliminary checks on pricing like a very manageable monthly fee that's actually is less than an average telephone or cable bill. Oh No, Not Another Monthly Fee!
Unfortunately, it's a lot more appealing for individuals and self-employed consultants than paying several hundreds of dollars and running a dedicated server at home. Blackberries are like Crackberries - they are the most addictive wireless Internet devices around - and you'll pay a premium to get the best mobile Internet experience. Do I need MDS for realtime email?
No. You don't need MDS for realtime email; you can already use your blackberry.net / blackberry.com email address and you'll receive emails on it nearly instantly (about 4 seconds after clicking send on desktop). This does not apply to POP mailboxes you add to your Blackberry, which are on a 15-minute poll. I only need email and don't care about MDS.
True, most people only need the great email feature of Blackberry and is happy to stick with it. But some of us want to be able to chat on instant messaging networks such as AIM, ICQ, and MSN. Others of us want remote access to our home computer for retrieving files, or want SSH access to their own Linux box. Some of us are gladly willing to pay tens of dollars extra per month to gain access to such features, but the service provider won't provide the feature. Any Other Benefits of Hosted BES/MDS?
For one, you get wireless Outlook/PIM synchronization. If you like the thought of being able to add new addresses and calendar entries to your Microsoft Outlook, and have them automatically show up on your BlackBerry seconds later, you'll love having access to BES/MDS. Even your Inbox folder structure will be synchronized. You can even view image attachments too (Requires both OS 4.0 and BES 4.0). Another benefit is that your email Inbox will be much bigger than the one provided with BWC/BIS. Your email will likely show up faster, since BWC/BIS can be very slow sometimes when cell carrier servers get overloaded. And MDS Internet access is usually much more reliable than the TCP/IP stack built into BlackBerryOS4. I can just use Rogers, T-Mobile, AT&T, NexTel, Telus Instead, they give me full Blackberry Internet access.
Great, if you're one of the lucky ones! For instructions on how to setup TCP/IP on a BlackBerry, see this thread
. Recent Blackberry models such as 7100 and 7290 on these carriers are known to have full access to the Internet. Older BlackBerries upgraded to BlackBerryOS 4.0 also have full access to the Internet now. These carriers are great if you are in one of their great coverage areas. However, not everybody of us are in their good coverage areas and some of us need a Blackberry that can roam. For example, there is now GSM/GPRS coverage in Canada driving along inter-city highways between major Canadian cities, with certain providers in Canada. Other people want to still be able to receive email while travelling aboard. How do I do Over-The-Air Downloads?
You launch the Blackberry Browser (or WAP browser) and click on any link that connects to a .jad file. These are tiny Java applications called Midlets. In technical terms, these are J2ME applications (MIDP 1.0). By having access to MDS, you can easily do Over-The-Air downloads of software directly to your Blackberry, just like downloading software to a modern Java powered cellphone. (Blackberry actually uses the same Java language). That means software designed for a Nokia or Motorola cellphone can work on your BlackBerry! Two of the most popular Over-The-Air download websites are Midlet.org
. On some midlet download sites, sometimes you may have to masquerade as another cellphone or select "All Devices" in order to get access to a clickable .jad link on your Blackberry. I heard my carrier is going to provide a public MDS/MDG service for free.
Yes, that's right. For more information, please see Configuring Internet On BlackBerry
, which may be all you need, unless you want the extra features of a BES. Several carriers including Rogers, T-Mobile, AT&T, Nextel, and Telus now provide TCP/IP capabilities on BlackBerries! This is also called "Blackberry Internet Connection Service" internally at some carriers. Service books are often called "BlackBerry Internet Browsing Service". Additional carriers are already beta-testing this. Even with a public MDS, there are still the advantages of bigger email space and potential better performance using a separate BES/MDS hosting service. In the meantime, most hosting services are month-by-month, so you can cancel once your carrier provides Public MDS service. To help accelerate your carrier's deployment of Public MDS, call your carrier's Blackberry department and request support for Public MDS and tell them Rogers, T-Mobile, AT&T, Nextel and Telus now support it. As an example, tell your carrier about Verichat and WebMessenger instant messaging, and how it will improve Blackberry sales if users could easily install Internet applications on Blackberry. Point your carrier's support department to this thread, to help educate even more people at the carrier understand the need for Public MDS. Is MDS/MDG Specific To Blackberries?
Not quite. All modern cellphones with access to the Internet, require a gateway of some kind. You may have heard of these in different naming conventions such as GGSN, APN, MDG, etc. In simple terms, they essentially make connections possible between a carrier network and an external network, such as the Internet on your mobile device (or even just a simple connection to a BES server). If you have heard of GGSN (APN) on a cellphone, then that's a network component similiar to MDG. More information about various gateway services is provided on this SourceO2 page
and on this Motorola iDEN
page. Only MDS is Blackberry specific, while MDG and GGSN (APN) is not Blackberry specific. In fact, MDS still uses MDG in order to connect between a Blackberry and a BES server, and then from there, mobile Internet connections are made through your company's Internet connection. Credit given to a forum member (Deefer) who recently gave an excellent explanation that made this paragraph possible. Finding Cheap Access To MDS
A cheaper way of getting access to MDS for individuals. Individual self-employed people like me can't always justify paying $595 or $995 for a Blackberry Enterprise Server just to get access to web, chat, IM, telnet/ssh and other utilities that require MDS
There is huge demand out there by self-employed individuals (like me) who want their Blackberry to be able to do full HTML, telnet/ssh, AIM/ICQ/MSN messaging, and other sysadmin utilities, perhaps to connect to their home computer, etc. People like me are willing to pay an additional monthly fee to gain access to additional applications such as instant messaging and being able to do HTML web browsing with color graphics. As long as it is not a large one-time fee such as $595 or $995, considering that a few Blackberry carriers and most non-Blackberry carriers already include full Internet service at no extra charge. Blackberry Internet Applications For Consumers/Prosumers:
Here's a partial listing of BlackBerry Internet software available for BlackBerries: Optional Hosted BES/MDS Services
- Link2ExchangePlatinum Sponsor
Best BES/Exchange Host, 24/7 North American Support, Stride to exceed your expectations. $19.90 per month. (BES4 Upgraded!)
Cheapest MDS service available. Also called MyBlackberry. More barebones than the average BES/MDS provider, there is traditionally a large emphasis on MDS rather than providing Exchange email, although you get an Exchange email box too. Appears to be a good choice if you just want to keep using your existing BWC/BIS email. $10 per month. (BES4 Upgraded!)
They are one of the more established WAP gateway providers normally providing web browser gateway services for regular cellphones. They have recently entered the BES/MDS hosting business. $19.95 per month. (BES4 Upgraded!)
This seems to be the most popular choice, especially for small corporations. I use this, and it works with all Blackberry apps I've tried. They are a hosted Exchange server provider with a Blackberry Enterprise Server option. $23 per month total costs, it is reportedly possible to get access to BES/MDS. (BES4 Upgraded!)
This service is cheaper, and some people have mixed reports about this. $16.90 per month. Back in early 2004, it was reported slow technical support and may not be as reliable as Mailstreet. (No updates as of 2005).
They now provide BES Hosting. About $25 per month. This is an old favourite among some corporations, as they have been around since 1995.
- MI8 Corporation
They cater to bigger groups, supposed to support MDS. Need to contact them for a price quote, normally cater to at least 10 people but reportedly catered to a single individual.
- Bell Canada Hosted Exchange
This is great if you are a Bell Canada BlackBerry user, since that's their own in-house MDS hosting service.
Another popular recommended BES/MDS service, used by many corporate users. Not as commonly used by self employed people and consumers as Mailstreet or MyBlackberry.