Sunday, 10 February 2013

UAE BlackBerry 10s Need A Data Plan

BlackBerry Employees Count Down to BlackBerry 10
BlackBerry Employees Count Down to BlackBerry 10 (Photo credit: Official BlackBerry Images)
There has been quite a lot of confusion globally about the new BlackBerry 10 smartphone and how you access BlackBerry services. In the good old days, your BB worked seamlessly and gave you access to roaming data and messaging - a key reason for its wild popularity in the Gulf. The new BB Z10 will NOT do that. You're going to need to join the riff-raff and subscribe to a data plan. If you try and use that puppy when you're roaming, heaven alone knows what the consequences will be, but standard roaming data rates with both Etisalat and Du are a whopping Dhs 1 per 30 kilobytes of data.

To put that in perspective - a Gigabyte is a thousand Megabytes and a Megabyte is a thousand Kilobytes. So 1 Gig of data at that rate would be around Dhs 33,000. Bargain, huh?

A smartphone will happily gorge its way through thirty kilobytes of data in about the time it takes a fly to hit a windscreen (What's the last thing to go through a fly's mind when it hits the windscreen? Its bum). I've got a 1 GB data plan and manage to keep a lid on it, but I'm by no means a heavy user. And I frequently find myself bobbing up towards the limit by the end of the month. Smartphones are constantly online, downloading this, checking that, updating the other. When you hit YouTube with a vengeance or start using them as a tethered wireless hotspot, the old byteometer starts whizzing around. It's why having a mobile that defaults automatically to WiFi is a godsend - particularly when all your apps decide they need to be updated at once, which happens every other day as far as I can see.

So to be clear, if you've bought the BB10, you're not covered by BIS any more - you need to get a data plan.

Luckily, both of the UAE's operators have BB10 ready plans, although Etisalat seems more ready than its rival - it offers four BB packages ranging from Dhs 49 to Dhs 299. The Dhs 49 package doesn't work with the Z10, so you'll need to start with the 'BlackBerry Complete' plan at Dhs 79. If you want roaming, the most expensive plan, the Dhs 299 'BlackBerry global' will give you 20 MB of roaming data. With roaming data speeds on offer of 2 Mbps, you're looking at using that abundant allowance of data in a little over a minute's access.

Du's plans seem a great deal more sketchy - at least the way they're presented online makes it look that way. And Du's roaming data is via its roaming data daily bundle - a one-time charge of Dhs50 which is valid for 24 hours and buys between 3 and 8 MB of data, depending where you are. Which is even less than Etisalat and a pretty useless amount of data.

At least Etisalat has started sending warning messages out when you hit your data plan limit, but the chances are we can look forward to puzzled UAE BlackBerry users wondering why their lovely new BB Z10 smartphone is suddenly gobbling credits like a PacMan on crack. There's an argument the operators should be louder and clearer on the new arrangement, communicating it effectively to consumers before they make the decision to buy the new handset.

But that would be far too sensible, wouldn't it?

(This post is thanks to Gerald Donovan, who originally brought this issue to light)
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5 comments:

PK Gulati said...

Uncle McNabb, to add to your post... I understand that the new BB10 platform does not compress data, unlike the earlier OS versions (1:5 apparently). This means that with an iPhone-like experience, the average Joe will use many times more of data, making it unviable for telcos. So I understand that you can keep your 'old' packages if you dont use the BB10 package. What irony? This will make me do what I have refrained for, for months - dump BB altogether!!

Arabian Alien said...

Du also has a new facility that automatically blocks any data once you hit your limit - you then have to proactively go online or call them to increase your limit. I think that's pretty sensible.

Luke said...

I switched to Android in December last year with a Galaxy Note II. It was a revelation. So quick, so responsive, such a contrast to my BB 9780 that would need a reboot 4x a day.

But when I tried using it for work, I noticed after a while I seemed so tense. It wasn't as intuitive as I thought. I had to think hard how to switch apps. The keyboard kept popping up when i didn't want it, or disappearing when I needed it, or it was showing numbers when I needed letters. Then I noticed that every app appeared to be running and I couldn't turn them off. They were all busy sending data - i suspected about where I was, what I was doing etc. I HATED it.

Anyway, within 24hrs I was back online looking for a new BB. I got a 9790 - it has email, bbm, it works without forcing you to get naked in front of google, it multitasks. But most importantly, IT HAS A KEYBOARD.

The only thing I find annoying about it is the fact the screen is touch sensitive. Who decided we want to touch the screen? I haven't found a use for it yet.

Jim said...

What are you talking about? International BlackBerry service is at AED 260 for 1GB of data from du. It's always been like that, BB OS 10 or not.

Luke said...

The new blackberry doesn't use BIS anymore. BES yes, BIS no.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/02/05/blackberry_bis_going_going/