BlackBerry Services Supported Over a Wi-Fi Connection


Wi-Fi on a BlackBerry is very important feature for most of us and it’s still one of the prime deciding factor for many on which model to buy. We know how BlackBerry works on Wi-Fi and what we can do with it based on our past experiences and trials but we have now the official knowledge base article published by RIM yesterday stating what BlackBerry services you can use over a W-Fi connection. Let me explain what it means in simple terms yet in detail.

BlackBerry with Wi-Fi and UMA compatibility

A Wi-Fi enabled BlackBerry smartphone can access voice and data services using multiple radio technologies.

If the wireless service provider makes Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA)/generic access network (GAN) technology available for subscription, the Wi-Fi enabled BlackBerry smartphone can access voice and data services over a mobile network and a Wi-Fi connection. UMA/GAN allows concurrent connections to data services over a Wi-Fi connection and voice services over the mobile network.

A Wi-Fi enabled BlackBerry smartphone can establish a Wi-Fi connection from an organization Wi-Fi network, a personal Wi-Fi network with a virtual private network (VPN) connection, or a hotspot with a VPN connection direct to the BlackBerry Router.

This feature is there since quite a long time and many wireless carriers are promoting it actively. The BlackBerry Pearl 8120, Curve 8320 (discontinued by most carriers), Curve 8900, Curve 8520, Bold 9700 etc are all Wi-Fi capable devices which are supported for UMA compatibility by many wireless service providers. UMA allows you to basically use your Wi-Fi network to make and receive calls whereby you can save your air time minutes from your calling plan thus making these calls as free calls. You need to subscribe for this UMA/ talkspot feature from your wireless carrier if they are providing it. (e.g. $10/month for unlimited local and $15/month for unlimited national by Rogers in Canada).

Tip: Make sure you have UMA displayed on your home screen before calling out if you are subscribed to UMA feature. This will ensure those calls are free UMA calls. If you do not have UMA feature on your account and using above mentioned BlackBerry model then keep the Connection Preference as "Mobile Network Preferred” not “Wi-Fi Preferred” in order to avoid dropped calls occasionally. You can access/change this settings from MenuManage ConnectionsMobile Network Options.

Free BBM Messages and BIS emails while outside home network

In addition, using a Wi-Fi network to connect directly to the BlackBerry Router, with or without a VPN session, or to the Internet on the appropriate port, a Wi-Fi enabled BlackBerry smartphone can access the BlackBerry® Internet Service, BlackBerry® Messenger, and personal identification number (PIN) messaging.

To connect to the BlackBerry Data Services over Wi-Fi for PIN messaging and BlackBerry Internet Service connectivity, the BlackBerry smartphone will require a BlackBerry data plan from the wireless service provider. It may also require a BlackBerry data plan to connect to the BlackBerry Router on a BlackBerry Enterprise Server to access BlackBerry data services.

Note: Check with your wireless service provider for supported services and features.

This is the huge plus and the only main reason of writing this post. Many BlackBerry users are already using it this way and many users do not know if it can be used this way too.

If you already have a data plan then you have access to BBM and BIS emails and you can use BBM and BIS emails on Wi-Fi too. So when you are connected to Wi-Fi network and you have the Mobile Network tuned OFF, you can still use the BlackBerry Messenger and send/receive BIS emails.

Let me explain by giving you two examples.

Inside Home Network – Wi-Fi ON – Mobile Network OFF

I use my BlackBerry this way most of the time when I do not want to be disturbed by voice calls. With Wi-Fi connected and Mobile Network turned OFF, I still get my emails and BBM messages which are important to me and I do not get disturbed by any voice calls and SMS/MMS which is fine in those instances. This also helps me save on Battery charge.

Outside Home Network – Wi-Fi ON – Mobile Network OFF

I have used the BlackBerry this way couple of times and never got additional charge by my carrier. When I was roaming outside my home network, I was able to use BBM and BIS emails through Wi-Fi and did not receive additional charge. It may/ may not work if you are on BES and as stated in the above note it is advised to check with your wireless service provider for supported services and features.

> > Read the Knowledge Base Article KB13368
> > How to connect to Wi-Fi and Browse Internet

So leave your comments if you have used the BlackBerry on Wi-Fi while you were roaming out side your home network in the past.

BlackBerry Posts

33 Comments & Trackbacks
  1. Mari

    Hey great article 🙂
    I just want to clarify a few things. see I’m new to blackberry’s, so what exactly is the ‘Mobile network’?
    And are you saying by doing this. you’re saving paying whatever-a-month for Internet service?

    Because I understand in order to use BBM & Internet, you have to have the service plan.
    so is this a way to get the plan, receive your pin, and then stop paying per month & only use wi-fi internet, and use BBM without paying for the internet service?
    please explain 🙂

  2. Mike

    Mobile network is what you get to make and receive calls, just voice and SMS plan.

    You are right. In order to use BBM, you have to have a data plan, after that you can use BBM either on WiFi or Dataplan from your carrier. As long as you have the active dataplan, you will be able to use BBM.

    All the Blackberry devices have their PIN assigned to it. What happens is when you get the data plan, the Blackberry PIN gets registered to RIM servers and gets the proper service books to allow BBM to work.

    You can browse the Internet on wifi, doesn’t matter you have the data plan or not.

    I hope this will clarify your doubts.

  3. Salma

    i dont get it how do i get a service plan without paying ? i need this data plan please how can i get …………………….


    • Munish

      This post is not about that.

      You have to pay to get the data plan from your service provider if you’re looking for pushed emails or BlackBerry Meseensger.

      The only thing you can do without paying for dataplan is to use the browser icon to surf the Internet from your BlackBerry via your own Home/ Office Wi-Fi router.

  4. Zahra


    Ive been using the wifi on mobile network off since im roaming. It was working but suddenly it stopped. Any suggestions?

    Plz help


  5. Yousef

    Hey I’ve been using the bb service since I have a service plan in my home town but I travlled and had wifi in my house through wifi I’ve been using the services but when I changed sim cards and put the original back I’m connected to the wifi but I still can’t use bbm or email but the Internet work :s can some one please help thanks

    • Munish

      The Internet is working on Wi-Fi. Do keep in mind that for BBM and pushed email you need the active data plan on your new SIM card.

      It seems like all BBM and Email Service books have been deleted when you changed the SIM card.

      Make sure, you have the data plan active on the new SIM card. If you have access to BIS Email site, resend the service books.

      If problem persist, you may have to call your service provider tech support to make sure the BlackBerry Services profile is OK from their end.

  6. Penny

    Hey all, I have used BBM and other chat apps while travelling in Thailand and Indonesia on the Wifi network with Mobile Network turned off. No extra charges were added into the bill from my service provider.

    However, if you take out your SIM and put another local SIM, then the service books are refreshed. So when you put back your Dataplan enabled SIM into the Blackberry, it cannot connect to the Blackberry server and download the Service Books again. So you will not be able to connect using Wifi now.

    So make sure that you carry an extra phone for emergency calls and sms’s and keep the blackberry for ur BBM n emails on Wifi.

    Hope this helps?

  7. Celesta Satre

    Only if your VPN supports split tunneling. Without knowing what technology you’re using for your VPN it’s not possible to say if you can work around this or not.

  8. doesun

    A similar query:

    1. I have a 8900 from Rogers (unlocked) with a monthly 500MB data plan.

    2. I got a new 9700 recently also from Rogers (unlocked)

    3. I took the SIM card out from the 8900 and put it in the 9700 and registered it on the Rogers BIS and I am able to receive push emails, use BB Messenger, etc. on the 9700.

    4. I will take the SIM out of the 9700 and put it back in the 8900 and register it on the Rogers BIS and receive emails, use BB Messenger on the 8900.

    5. Now for the 9700, am I able to put in another carrier’s SIM card (e.g. China Mobile) and have access to push email and BB Messenger (as before when the Rogers SIM was inserted)?

    Assume that I am in a WiFi hotspot area and connected, and so I will not be using any of my Rogers 500MB limit.

    Thanks for any comments

    • Munish

      What happens is when you take the SIM out and insert it into other device, at that time all your BBM and Email services are re-registered to the new device.

      In your step5, when you insert China Mobile SIM into 9700, 9700 may have push email or BBM, depending on what ever plan and services you have from China Mobile SIM number. Your old Email and BBM services are deactivated as soon as you take the SIM out.

      For accessing Wi-Fi, you’re not using your Rogers 500 MB for browsing as long as you’ve Hotspot browser selected. You can access Wi-Fi even if you don’t have SIM inserted into BlackBerry. I am with Rogers too and I am able to use BB this way. Hope this helps.

      • doesun

        Thanks Munish for the reply.

        So basically, whatever SIM I put in my blackberry, the SIM needs to already have subscribed to the push email and BBM services (i.e. BIS). Whether or not data is charged to my plan depends if I am connected to a WiFi hotspot while accessing BIS. Is my understanding correct?

        If I want to travel overseas and still use BIS under Rogers and avoid roaming data charges, I can subscribe for the cheapest blackberry data plan ($15) and access BIS when I’m connected to a WiFi hotspot anywhere in the world. Hope this understanding is right

        • Munish

          Your understanding is correct. I’ve used it while roaming in US before.

          As long as you have SIM and related email and BBM servicebooks (config files in BlackBerry) active in the BlackBerry, you can just turn OFF the Mobile Network and use pushed Emails/ BBM via Wi-Fi. Once done using data, turn ON Mobile Network and turn OFF Data Services.

          While roaming, it’s better to have the Data Services turned OFF to avoid accidental roaming data charges. Turn it back on when you’re connected to Wi-Fi while roaming overseas.

          One more tip- If you’re planning to use the data this way – do not take out the SIM from BlackBerry, and do keep the roaming data plan active, just in case if those servicebooks are lost while roaming, you can get those via roaming data plan and then you’re good to go on Wi-Fi again.

          • doesun

            Thanks for the tips Munish, much appreciated.

  9. DP

    Hello, I have a blackberry from Sprint and I currently have a plan with data and everything. I am out of the country and turned on wifi so I could BBM and use chat programs. I have the mobile network turned off and the only connection i left on is WiFi…my question is will i be charged any extra fees for sending and receiving bbms and emails over wifi.

  10. jovunik

    Hi Munish, you seem to know your stuff!

    So I’m new to the BB world, I’m on Rogers and just picked up the Bold 9700. They told me the data plan will not be active until my next billing cycle (Oct. 7TH!!!) so at home I connected to Wi-Fi and was successfully able to browse using HotSpot Browser.

    Now as per your info above, I cannot use messenger and other rim services until the data plan is active, right?

    Can I still link to my hotmail using the Wi-Fi (not using the browser but using the email feature)? Or is that what pushed email means so do I have to wait untill the data plan kicks in?

    If yes, will the browser be okay to show hotmail legibly? (I would try it but at the moment I’m at work no Wi-Fi here – I have to wait till i get home)…


  11. Munish

    You’ll have to wait for active data plan for pushed email, messenger and other RIM services to work.

  12. diss91

    how can i know my data plan …my browser is working using wifi but the bbm isnot so how can i turn it on using the wifi?

  13. Shabb

    Hey, what happens when I use my blackberry with mobile network on wi-fi off

  14. Harsh

    there are two options on my phone:

    Data service: which is on
    data service on Roaming: its is off.

    but when is switch off data service i cannot surf on wifi!

    if i’m using wifi to do my emails and browsing is there any chance that i’m using the data services and being charged, if data service is on and data service on roaming is off

  15. krizia

    Hello, I have a blackberry from Mexico and I am now in Italy. My blackberry messenger worked well with a wi-fi connection and then I removed the SIM card and put it back again and the blackberry messenger does not work with wi-fi connection as it used to be although I am connected to wi-fi and the browser works well but not the bbm. What can I do to make the bbm work again with wi-fi?
    Please help!!

  16. jackie

    Hello I have a blackberry bold 9700 with T-mobile and I’m from Dallas,TX…right now I’m out of town I’m in San Luis,potosi mexico…and my wifi is working well I receive calls,texts,emails and I’m able to browse the web…is there a chance I’m being charged extra for this??? I’m worried I’m running up my bill or something! It doesn’t say roaming or anything….please someone if yall know about these thinks please help? Thanks 🙂

  17. Rolandow

    I have my blackberry 9900 for several days now, and I noticed from the status menu that I am still connected to Blackberry Internet Service when I turn off my mobile network (while on wifi).

    Because BIS wasn’t working at first, I check the connection a couple of times a day. Until know, it always said it was connected using the Mobile Network.

    How can I make sure that the wifi connection is used when I am connected to wifi? Shouldn’t this switch automatically? Or did my provider configure the phone to use the mobile network.

    Hope you can clearify.

  18. carol

    I have unpaid bills from rogers
    I just would like to ask if I can still receive messages internationally and can I still use my BBM,Twitter,Ym and all?
    reply asap

  19. SF

    I actually have many questions about Blackberry and the services available so if you have the time I would appreciate it if you could enlighten me on some of these issues. I needed to upgrade my phone and bought a Torch 9810. I do not BBM but have an old all-talk plan from a provider. We are in the Cayman Islands by the way where all things mobile are very expensive. Anyway, I have not signed up for a Data plan but have access to Wi-Fi once Data Services are on. I also noticed that I am able to browse the internet check e-mail once on WI-FI. Also I noticed that when not on WI-FI with Data Services on, I can still browse some sights but anything like e-mail or jaxtrsms does not work. I have apps like GTalk, Yahoo messenger but they don’t work even when on Wi-Fi. A message “Service not supported for this handheld.” or something similar pops up. So as you can see I am just trying to understand how this all works. The company has $3.00 Social package good for 7 days to do Facebook, IM, etc. no browsing. And a $10.00 Full internet access for 7 days. But I don’t know whether things like jaxtrsms would work using these data plans. Anyway, Do service books have anything to do with these settings? Why don’t some social apps work even though I have full access to the internet via Wi-Fi? The company told us that these add on packages $3. and $7. are not available to me because I don’t have a data plan. We only have a postpaid all-talk plan. This company (LIME) recently upgraded to 4G they claim but all I see is 3G on the screen. Some of contacts have Blackberries but they get edge or EDGE service.

    Can someone help me make sense of some of this

    • Munish

      You are not able to use those apps like GTalk may be because you do not have those service books (via data plan).

      EDGE, 3G, 4G display on screen depends on two things – 1) Whether a particular BlackBerry is supported or not (for eg. – 8310 will only display EDGE) 2) Service provider has that coverage on that location at a given time

  20. JoeMikes

    Plzzz Help Me? I have a wireless internet connection @ home B@ I cant get access to it with my bb 9530 cos under manage connections WiFi options doesnt show up what do I do???

  21. Jowan

    Hi minich as i understand u r rogers user… I just want to know i have 500 mb data plan from rogers n i dnt want to use bbm on data plan cuz its showing on my monthly bill that m using data everyday .. So if i turn off mobile network n use only wifi , it will consume from my data if m using bbm on wifi???? Cuz m trying to use bbm on wifi n i switch off the mobile network but even like this when m checking my data usage daily it showing that m loosing kb from my 500 mg … Plz clear for me this thx

  22. Ramnath

    I have a issue with my Blackberry Curve 8520. I am currently on international travel, so my mobile network is no longer working. But wherever there was a WiFi network available and when I connect I used to receive my emails and was able to send emails as well.

    Last two days I am unable to either send/receive emails for some reason. While i can still connect Facebook and other Apps using WiFi. Is there a solution for this. Did I do something wrong when I tried to connect to a new WiFi network which is causing this problem. Hope i receive a response to this quick.

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  25. Atilade

    Dear Munish,
    I have been using my bbm, emails and all other services via wifi modem.
    I stopped paying for the bbm data plan because i have the wifi.
    All of a sudden this morning my bbm and emails stopped working, what could be wrong please?