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Comparing Blackberry Plans by T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T & BES Express Support  Questions

Posted on 2008-10-22
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Last Modified: 2012-05-05
Hi,
I am running BES Express w/ Exchange 6.5 at work, I implemented it to support a single executive user that bought a Blackberry through Verizon.  Since BES is running now, I'm planning to get my own Blackberry.  Can I also support devices serviced by AT&T or T-Mobile (both provide Blackberry service in our area) on this BES instance?  I know it can support up to 30 users, but not sure if they can be with different providers.

Second Question:
I'm looking at T-Mobile service, but I'm confused about the differences in their Blackberry/data/email plans.  On their site, for Blackberry, they basically have two plan types, one is "BlackBerry Minutes & Mail" and the other is just "BlackBerry Internet Service", each available with phone minutes bundled for additional cost.  However, it *appears* that only the "BlackBerry Minutes & Mail" plan suports BES.

But, the detailed descripion of the "Blackberry Minues & Mail" plan (you have to dig a bit on the site to find these detailed specifics) says this:

Corporate My E-mail
Corporate My E-mail includes all the My E-mail features plus access to your corporate e-mail, calendar, and contacts from Microsoft® Exchange Server and Lotus Notes®/Domino® Server. Please note: In order to access corporate e-mail, your IT administrator must allow access to your e-mail via Outlook Web access for Microsoft Exchange or iNotes for Lotus.

Which leads me to ask, finally...

Is it true that only the ""BlackBerry Minutes & Mail" plan will support BES or is there a way to make it work with the cheaper "Blackberry Internet Service" plan?  I just don't get the OWA reference in the details above.  I do have that running, but as far as I understand it's not required for BES to work.

I've been somewhat immersed in Blackberry stuff recently and I'm rather confused by all the options, so feel free to elaborate.  I'm putting the points at 500, which I might end up spitting with responders depening on how many people can offer advice of value.

Some background on my experience so far; the user in question was using Blackberry Desktop Manager with Desktop Redirector, but this does not afford wireless calendar sync with Exchange.  I first tried to see if it would work with BIS, but again all sources said no, for wireless calendar sync you need BES or BES Express.  So, since you get one free license with BES Express I went ahead and set it up.  Again, this is for a Verizon device.  You can purchase additional user licenses for BES Express, up to 30, but I'm not sure if they all must be serviced by the same provider, Verizon or whichever you start with.  In order to download BES Expess for free, I had to give the device PIN number and whatnot so that's why I ask.

 
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Question by:commongroundwa
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Expert Comment

by:tenaj-207
ID: 22783072
Question 1.  Can BES support multiple devices on different machines? Yes it can.
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by:tenaj-207
ID: 22783098
Question 2.  Is BlackBerry Minutes & Mail and/or BlackBerry Internet service compatible with BES?  Answer, you have to get the BlackBerry Minutes & Mail for compatibility with BES.
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Author Comment

by:commongroundwa
ID: 22783115
Thanks for the clarifications on these two points.  Do you know if I have to buy additional CALs through Blackberry, or can I get them through CDW for instance?  I know they have BES CALs but not sure if those are the same as BES Express CALs
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by:tenaj-207
ID: 22783117
Question 3.  Is there a cheaper way then BES?  Yes, but you loose some service.  BES does three things.  Sync email, calendar, and contacts.  

For the email piece; use BIS and choose the option to point it at OWA.

For the calendar piece;  setup a gmail account.  Then download and install the Outlook sync for the Google calendar.
http://www.google.com/support/calendar/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=89955

Then install the Google calendar application for your BlackBerry
http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2007/12/google-calendar-sync-for-blackberry.html

For the contacts; sync the blackberry with blackberry desktop manager.

It's not as complicated as it sounds, but it's not quite as nice as BES either.

Let me know if that answers your questions or if I can provide more detail somewhere.

-t
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Author Comment

by:commongroundwa
ID: 22783144
Actually, I wish I had found you a few months ago.  You're the first to recommend this combination of work-arounds to avoid implementing BES.  Although this is useful to know, since I've got BES up and running I'm going to keep with it.  I have it set up on a VM of Win2K3 STD with MSDE running local.  I didn't want to be mucking around on the production SBS server (I'm no big fan of SBS, but it was already here) while I was doing my learning.  

At some point I plan to either rebuild the SBS, or do away with it and set up either Standard or Enterprise to run AD & Exchange.  In either scenario, would you recommend installing BES Express on the same system?  I hesitate to install it on SBS because of all the weird configs it has and the strange looking dual-implementation of SQL or MSDE or whatever.  Or, going a step farther, if I were to move away from SBS, would you have AD, Exchange & SQL 2K5 on the same system?  If yes, would you also have BES on it?  Or would you couple AD & Exchange, and couple SQL with BES on separate server instances?

In general, I'm moving towards virtualization because of the flexibility and reduced operating costs, plus the disaster recovery options are very attractive.  While I was fiddling around with BES I was very glad I had backups of the VM.  
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by:tenaj-207
ID: 22783155
BES CALs work with BES express.  The only limitation with express is the 30 user limit.
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Author Comment

by:commongroundwa
ID: 22783180
Technically what I have is Blackberry Professional Software Express, I think 4.1, which as I understand is what BES Express has become.  Is this correct, or does BES Express still exist also?
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by:tenaj-207
ID: 22783352
No, you're right they renamed it, BES Express is now Blackberry Professional Software Express.  

As for your server configuration it really depends on how many users you have and how much email goes though your system.  In situations with users under 30 I usually set it up on the same server, it makes life easier.  There are some issues with SBS but I've ran it with SBS with minimal problems.  The biggest problem I've had is with windows updates screwing up the connection between Exchange and BES.
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Author Comment

by:commongroundwa
ID: 22789318
Hi, thanks for all the tips.  I'll try to wrap up here with an final question that you may/may not know.  One of the things that I really want to do with my Blackberry is tether it to my laptop, especially when I'm visiting family in a different city.  I've been comparing the features and prices of plans between Verizon, AT&t & T-Mobile.  One of them specifically say that you have to pay an extra charge for tethering and you get 5GB/month.  I think that's AT&t.  But, T-Mobile & Verizon don't seem to have any really specific language about this.  What do you know about tethering with these service providers?  I tending to lean towards T-Mobile because I'm already a customer and I find their plan options and prices attractive.  But, I want the best bang for the buck also.
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by:tenaj-207
ID: 22789408
Verizon has the best coverage, T-mobile has the best prices and AT&T is in-between.  This various from city to city and even from block to block, but over all that's my opinion.  I've never heard of the 5GB limit for ATT.  It is probably a cheap version of the tethering plan.  ATT should also have an unlimited data tethering plan.

The bottom line is if you're leaning towards T-Mobile then go with T-Mobile.  When you get it then test it throughly so you can cancel within the 15 day window if you need to.
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Author Comment

by:commongroundwa
ID: 22791136
Hi,

Here is the link to AT&T's data plan details.

http://www.wireless.att.com/businesscenter/popup/dataconnect-comp-table.jsp#blackberry?wtLinkName=BlackBerry&wtLinkLoc=BDY

Notice the 5GB language for tethering, and the extra cost for the ability.  T-Mobile doesn't have any language like this, so I wonder if they have any type of restrictions on tethering.

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tenaj-207 earned 500 total points
ID: 22791502
5GB limit, that's crazy.

I have users who use tether with T-Mobile and I haven't seen any such restriction.  I also have an AT&T air card which has unlimited amount of air time for $50 a month.  

On a semi-related topic.  I know you can jailbreak the iPhone and tether Frefox (not IE) through it wirelessly.
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Author Closing Comment

by:commongroundwa
ID: 31509073
Do you know of any good online instructions for how to set up the tethering with T-Mobile.  I understand that it entails setting up a new "modem" with some special AT commands and whatnot.
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