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Join Date: Apr 2005
Carrier: T-Mobile (US)
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I think you're confusing the technologies behind the scenes (the device itself, the connection from the device, the end-point of that connection) with the actual service provisioning codes in T-Mobile's system with T-Mobile's billing systems with the "product" that T-Mobile sells, a plan or optional service for a plan. They are all related, but not the same.
The actual wireless technology of the device: The BlackBerry 8900 has transceivers to handle GSM voice and data, GPRS data, EDGE data all at 850MHz/900MHz/1800MHz/1900Hz, and also WiFi data (802.11b/g) and Bluetooth data (v2.0 + EDR) both at 2.4GHz. There's also a GPS receiver as well.
So how many types of "traffic" can your 8900 handle? Mix and match the above types with frequencies, it's way more than four. Would you count USB as well?
Like every telephone company, T-Mobile USA handles measuring the service by charging for minutes connected on their circuit-switched connections in their network (voice) and charging for megabytes sent/received on packet-switched connections in their network (data). So, in the end, they can bill you for minutes of voice, and megabytes of data, and since they actually work differently behind-the-scenes, they don't mix them by interpolating voice into megabytes or stringing data transmission together and trying to measure it in minutes... although it's handy that they offer unlimited plans for both.
So to your point of UMA, it's still just a circuit-switched connection back within the T-Mobile network, so gets treated as such and measured in minutes. In that respect, it's no different than a GSM call connecting to a GSM tower and still plugged back into the same circuit-switched network. T-Mobile just has rate plans and options that can bill for these connections separately (Unlimited HotSpot Calling), just as they have plans that can bill other connections separately with myFaves, mobile-to-mobile, night, and weekend minutes.
This is all somewhat complicated by the "point" of a BlackBerry, and that's push email. That requires T-Mobile USA to get data to a RIM server that front-ends your BlackBerry, either BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) or a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) and that includes both e-mail and web browsing. Note I didn't say IP, as it's not normal IP from your BlackBerry to the BIS or BES, they front-end it with all sorts of proxy and data compression goodness and it's normal IP only *behind* the BIS or BES. For example, when you see a picture in the web browser via BIS/BES, the server re-renders the image before it sends it to your BlackBerry for size and speed. That's why attachments get be rendered too, it's the BIS or BES server rendering them.
You can "skip" this, in that there's a setting in the web browser called "HotSpot" that will let the browser talk IP directly and not use BIS or BES. Oh, and just to confuse you more, if you have a UMA connection, you're connecting to a WiFi Access Point (using IP as well) through an IPsec tunnel back into the T-Mobile USA network that will happily connect voice to a circuit-switched connection or data back to a packet-switched connection to a BIS/BES server for push email or web browsing where it'll be IP behind those servers. In the end, again, circuit-switched voice measured in minutes and packet-switched data measured in megabytes.
So to get to the bottom line, right now T-Mobile USA doesn't offer bundled voice/data in one billing code that can apply to your BlackBerry, but they have before (so you may know of someone with a xxx8220;grandfatheredxxx8221; plan thatxxx8217;s no longer offered) and you never know, might do it again in the future. But when they do, don't count on "buckets" of minutes, as the concept of minutes don't really make sense for data. They do offer voice plans where you can add data services to them, and that's what you have to get if you want to make phone calls and BlackBerry email.
If you can live WITHOUT BlackBerry email, you might be able to get close to what you want with WiFi. You can set the browser to "HotSpot" (so it'll talk IP and not "phone home" to a BIS/BES to render pages on its behalf) and then get a different email client that can handle IP directly. Maybe the BlackBerry Gmail client? I've seen others as well but never tried them.
But if you do that, why get a BlackBerry?