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Old 03-11-2009, 02:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 8900 & T-Mobile Data Traffic Plans?

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It looks like T-Mobile & the Blackberry 8900 support three [and maybe four] basic types of traffic:
1) VOICE: GSM [regular minutes, $39.99 per month for 1000 minutes]

2) VOICE: UMA = "GSM over IP" [uses either regular minutes, or Hotspot unlimited at $9.99 per month]

3) DATA: "IP over GSM" [the "data" plans, $34.99 per month for unlimited traffic]

4) DATA: ??? Blackberry 8900 raw TCP/IP packets over 802.11b/g ???
At this point, after a lot of research, I feel like I understand #2, "UMA" = "GSM over IP".

But what I am having problems with now is #3 - is there any way to get a discount on that "IP over GSM" traffic?

If I add #1 and #3 together, then I'm looking at $75 a month, and if I add on Hotspot, then I'm at $85 a month!!!

There are a few pages at T-Mobile which imply that there might be such a thing as "bundled Minutes & Mail plans". [New user - can't post links yet - sorry.] But I couldn't find any such "bundles" at the T-Mobile store, and when I called the T-Mobile customer service rep, she was just utterly clueless [in all honesty, the poor girl sounded like she was illiterate].

What I would like is some sort of a bundle which allows me to use "IP over GSM" data minutes [#3] as though they were regular GSM voice minutes [#1] - i.e. I want just one big pot of minutes that I can use for either data or voice.

But I'm not finding any such thing on the T-Mobile website.

[By the way, that's how UMA without Hotspot works: If you use UMA without Hotspot, then you get a big pot of minutes and you can use them as either old-fashioned "GSM" or as UMA = "GSM over IP" minutes.]

Finally, is #4 even theoretically possible? If I go into a Starbucks/Borders/Barnes&Noble/Public Library with 802.11b/g, then with a Blackberry 8900 can I get on the internet using raw TCP/IP packets over 802.11b/g, with no involvement by T-Mobile whatsover?

If #4 is a realistic possibility, then I could ditch #3 altogether [$34.99 X 12 = $419.88 per year] and just drive to where I can get good WiFi reception, and check my email for free.

Thanks for any answers!!!
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Old 03-11-2009, 03:08 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Okay, as for #4 [raw IP packets], I found this page at the T-Mobile forums, and it looks like it does work:

How to Get Wifi (without any data plan) to work?
[Go to "forums DOT t-mobile DOT com" and look for the "BlackBerry Curve 8900" forum.]

...open up your browser

then press menu

then select options

then select Browser Configuration

then select Internet Browser and switch to Hotspot Browser or WIFI Browser...
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Old 03-11-2009, 07:43 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Also, there should be a BB unlimited data plan for $24.99 that also includes 400 text messages. That might help keep you in a lower price range monthly.
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Old 03-12-2009, 10:56 AM   #4 (permalink)
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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?
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Old 03-12-2009, 01:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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First of all, thanks to dvaskelis for an outstanding reply, that's the most I've learned about T-Mobile and BlackBerry at one time.

To the original post, let me provide an example that may help. I currently have with my Curve 8900:
myFaves 1000 plan - $59.99
BlackBerry Unlimited - $19.99
1000 text messages - $9.99
For a total of $90 a month for unlimited blackberry data (#3) and unlimited GSM voice calls (#1) to my "fave 5". I can use any wifi access point (#4) I want and browse for free without touching the T-Mobile network, as pointed out in the previous post. However I do not currently have HotSpot access, which would allow me to connect to T-Mobile wifi access points, nor HotSpot@Home (#2), which would allow UMA calls at such access points.

Hope this helps.

John

I do remember hearing about some bundled plans in the works for unlimited BlackBerry + HotSpot + some text messages for like $34.99 a month, but I haven't seen anything concrete.
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Old 03-12-2009, 01:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I have Blackberry Unlimited Data for 19.99 a month. I know they recently rasied the rate on this
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Old 03-12-2009, 02:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcmtyler View Post
However I do not currently have HotSpot access, which would allow me to connect to T-Mobile wifi access points, nor HotSpot@Home (#2), which would allow UMA calls at such access points.
Well, not exactly.

If your account is provisioned normally with a T-Mobile USA voice plan, and if your T-Mobile USA SIM card is in a UMA-capable phone, like your BlackBerry 8900, and if the device is set up and connected to a WiFi connection that allows an IPsec VPN connection back to T-Mobile USA's network over the Internet... then you can not only make UMA calls, you will receive SMS/MMS/PIN messages over UMA and you'll be connected back to your BIS/BES over UMA as well. The minutes used for voice calls will billed exactly the same as minutes over GSM, unless you have the "Unlimited HotSpot Calling" feature.

The "HotSpot" feature is something totally different. If you have this feature, then you'll get an ID and password that you can use to login to T-Mobile HotSpots with any device, typically a laptop. Note that a T-Mobile USA UMA-capable phone will connect to T-Mobile HotSpots for UMA (voice/data/BlackBerry) regardless if you have the "HotSpot" feature or not. I said UMA, which means if you have T-Mobile USA data services, like BIS/BES, then you can get email or web browsing on a T-Mobile HotSpot without any feature code. But, you won't get an IP address for HotSpot web browsing, since you don't have a HotSpot account, but you can browse the web through BIS/BES.

"HotSpot @Home" just means having a WiFi router at home, which T-Mobile USA will gladly sell you. The advantage of having a T-Mobile USA router instead of providing your own is that they support their own routers and can help you when things go wrong. Outside of hints and tips and "it should work" when you have your own WiFi router T-Mobile USA won't be able to help very much if something's wrong.

None of this is to be confused with "T-Mobile @Home", where they can sell you either a "T-Mobile HiPort" WiFi router or adapter that has a SIM slot. You plug in a traditional POTS phone into it, and it connects back to the T-Mobile network using similar protocols to UMA, having T-Mobile essentially provide you your local telephone line instead of your local telco.
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Old 03-12-2009, 02:39 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hotburnttoast View Post
I have Blackberry Unlimited Data for 19.99 a month. I know they recently rasied the rate on this
Really? I think most of us pay $20/month for data (which includes email of course). When did that go up and how much is it now?
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Old 03-13-2009, 05:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Ok so what I was thinking of as "Hotspot@Home" is really what T-Mobile now calls on their website "Unlimited Hotspot Calling", which is where your UMA calls (made over wifi) will not charge against your normal monthly minutes. So with a UMA-enabled phone I can make calls over wifi, but they will still go against my monthly max (e.g. 1000 minutes) UNLESS I have Unlimited Hotspot Calling.

Is there a difference between that and T-Mobile's regular $9.99 Hotspot service, which you mentioned below? In other words, if I pay an extra $9.99 a month, I should be able to connect via wifi at Starbucks using my laptop, or make unlimited UMA calls using my 8900, is that correct?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dvaskelis View Post
Well, not exactly.

The "HotSpot" feature is something totally different. If you have this feature, then you'll get an ID and password that you can use to login to T-Mobile HotSpots with any device, typically a laptop. Note that a T-Mobile USA UMA-capable phone will connect to T-Mobile HotSpots for UMA (voice/data/BlackBerry) regardless if you have the "HotSpot" feature or not. I said UMA, which means if you have T-Mobile USA data services, like BIS/BES, then you can get email or web browsing on a T-Mobile HotSpot without any feature code. But, you won't get an IP address for HotSpot web browsing, since you don't have a HotSpot account, but you can browse the web through BIS/BES.
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Old 03-13-2009, 09:16 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcmtyler View Post
Is there a difference between that and T-Mobile's regular $9.99 Hotspot service, which you mentioned below? In other words, if I pay an extra $9.99 a month, I should be able to connect via wifi at Starbucks using my laptop, or make unlimited UMA calls using my 8900, is that correct?
Yes, there is a difference.

You can make UMA calls at a T-Mobile HotSpot (like most Starbucks, Borders, etc.) as long as you have any T-Mobile voice plan. Try it. The HotSpot feature is unrelated to your ability to make, or be billed for, UMA calls.

If you sign up for the HotSpot service, then yes, you can use your laptop for WiFi Internet.
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Old 03-27-2009, 03:41 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I use the $5.99 T-Zones plan.
So far everything has been working great except for email thru the BB app.

Googlemaps and web browsing is great
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