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Old 02-15-2008, 03:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hi all... longtime member at HowardForums, and someone there suggested I post this here.

Figured this is a better place to ask than at the Alltel store. More likely to get the right answer here... it's a very specific question regarding how Blackberrys work with a mail server from a protocol standpoint. I'm looking for one of you gurus who understands the Blackberry protocol and network, as well as an understanding of how mailservers work, to give me his/her 2 cents. The rest of you can just disregard it...

I'm trying to get a handle on *exactly* how Blackberry "push" mail works since the folks at the Alltel store don't seem to be able to tell me much.

Let me explain a bit first... I own a Web site design and hosting company. Part of the service we provide is email for our clients. The server is NOT an Exchange server (this is important!), but is rather running a service called SmarterMail which is a fairly standard SMTP mailserver supporting IMAP and POP3 for retrieving mail via a client.

The problem? This client's Blackberry does not receive mail for quite a while after it is received by our mailserver. The delay can be anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour. I can send a message to him and within 15 seconds I can see that it is in his Inbox on our mailserver via webmail... he can receive it via Outlook... but his Blackberry doesn't see it for quite a while.

Now, here's the clarification I'm looking for... as I understand it, the way the Blackberry works is that the phone does not contact our mailserver directly (like my HTC 6800 does via IMAP). Instead, the Blackberry server contacts our mailserver, using IMAP with IDLE I assume, and when it sees a new message it makes a copy on the Blackberry server and then pushes it to the phone. Is that correct?

Assuming it is, here's an error that Alltel was able to pull up:

"TeamOn server timed out, remote server not responding."

which tells me that the TeamOn (I assume this is the Blackberry server) server is not able to connect to my mailserver. Thing is, I have watched our server as this happens and the logs don't even show a connection attempt by the Blackberry server, which would mean that it's a Blackberry network issue and not our mailserver, since in order for our mailserver to respond it needs to see the connection from the Blackberry server first... and I don't see that happening in the logs.

Again, sorry if this is a confusing post... looking for one of you insiders who understands the Blackberry protocol and network to give me his/her 2 cents. The rest of you can just disregard it...
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Old 02-15-2008, 03:23 PM   #2 (permalink)
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What you're describing is BIS. BlackBerry Internet Service.
It's basically a middleware portal between the Blackberry Device and a POP3/IMAP mailbox.

BIS will poll the POP3 or IMAP mailbox on a schedule. Typically every 15-20 minutes. If it finds new mail in the mailbox, it retrieves it and pushes it to the handheld. (Mail is not stored on RIM's servers.) If new email is found, the polling frequency in increased to a shorter time between polls, until no more mail is found. Then it returns to it's normal 15 minute polling cycle.

The BlackBerry device does not communicate directly with the email mailbox.

BlackBerry device talks to BIS. BIS talks to the Mailbox.
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Old 02-15-2008, 03:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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It's getting there, but it is taking way longer than it should, according to my client... sometimes delayed by an hour or more.
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Old 02-15-2008, 03:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by answerman View Post
It's getting there, but it is taking way longer than it should, according to my client... sometimes delayed by an hour or more.
Have you verified that the client's device is in a good wireless coverage area and has a solid data signal?
Make sure the device has a 1X or 1XEV signal.

If it's 1x or 1xev, then that's indicative of poor data coverage and no mail will be delivered. Phone calls and SMS will still work with 1x or 1xev... but no email.

If BIS was improperly set up... the user would never get mail.

Additionally... RIMs servers did go down, hard, earlier this week.
Was this when the user reported the trouble?
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Old 02-15-2008, 03:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by penguin3107 View Post
Have you verified that the client's device is in a good wireless coverage area and has a solid data signal?
Make sure the device has a 1X or 1XEV signal.

If it's 1x or 1xev, then that's indicative of poor data coverage and no mail will be delivered. Phone calls and SMS will still work with 1x or 1xev... but no email.
No, the signal seems good, I don't think that's the problem. I don't think it's the phone at all. Per the error message in my original post, it seems to be more related to BIS not properly contacting my mailserver... and as I said I'm not even seeing connection attempts in the mailserver log... they are very sporadic, definitely not every 15 minutes, which is why I suspected a BB network issue.
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If BIS was improperly set up... the user would never get mail.

Additionally... RIMs servers did go down, hard, earlier this week.
Was this when the user reported the trouble?
No, it's been going on for a few weeks, since the phones were set up.
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Old 02-15-2008, 03:51 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Do you have any other clients with BlackBerry devices? Are they experiencing similar issues?
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Old 02-15-2008, 04:05 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I have a couple of other clients that use BlackBerry devices, but haven't heard any complaints from them. As far as I can tell, this is specific to one client (they actually have two BB devices, and both are exhibiting this behavior).

Is there anything wonky in the BIS setup I should be aware of?
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Old 02-15-2008, 04:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
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If the mail was sent to their BB e-mail address, i.e. your clients, then that is pushed out immediately.

As, stated previously in this thread the other mail services (accounts) are polled on a regular basis i.e. the service you are providing.

The polling intervals may also be restricted by the servers they are polling (although not 100% certain on this e.g. like the rss feeds).
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Old 02-15-2008, 04:25 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
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The polling intervals may also be restricted by the servers they are polling (although not 100% certain on this e.g. like the rss feeds).
No, no restrictions on the server end... I built it and configured it myself, so it should never reject a connection like this. Like I said in the OP, I'm not even seeing connection attempts from the BIS server.
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Old 02-15-2008, 04:29 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by answerman View Post
No, no restrictions on the server end... I built it and configured it myself, so it should never reject a connection like this. Like I said in the OP, I'm not even seeing connection attempts from the BIS server.
Have the client resend their service books to the handheld using the BIS portal.
If that doesn't help... then have them remove their email address from the BIS portal and then re-add it.
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