RIMarkable Read: Why Wireless Carriers Hate Wi-Fi

20 Comments

Do you remember when we first started hearing about the BlackBerry 8800? One of the main features, so we thought, was Wi-Fi. Now that the BlackBerry 8800 is here, no Wi-Fi.

What gives?

It it isn’t like the technology isn’t here. Other manufacturers put Wi-Fi in their devices of similar size. Many say that the BlackBerry 8800 actually has Wi-Fi built in and that it is just disabled by they carriers. If this is the case, why in the world would a wireless carrier disable a feature that just about everyone wants?

Because Wireless carriers hate Wi-Fi.

Hate is a very strong word so I will qualify it just a bit. Wireless carriers “hate” Wi-Fi that they don’t control and sell to you. It is one thing when a wireless carrier doesn’t make money because of technology. It is quite another when they lose money because of it and that’s exactly what will happen when when Wi-Fi starts popping up in BlackBerrys and other smartphones that historically haven’t had Wi-Fi built in.

You may be saying to yourself, “This can’t be true. Many other smartphones are Wi-Fi enabled.” Well, you would be right, however, you have to look at the history of those devices. Remember the Palm Pilot? It was the BlackBerry before the BlackBerry was the BlackBerry. If you think back, Palm started sticking Wi-Fi Palm devices long before the Treo came out. You have the same situation with Windows Mobile, then Pocket PC, devices. You had Wi-Fi PCMCIA cards, SD cards, and PDAs with built-in Wi-Fi, before smartphones started to become popular.

As Palm and Microsoft starting coming out with wireless in their devices, carriers had to accommodate for Wi-Fi to some extent because so much of those devices functionality for the previous 3 years was built around Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi was a necessary evil as far as the carriers were concerned.

This, however, is not the case for BlackBerrys and other smartphones that historically, haven’t had Wi-Fi. Carriers have been able to charge a premium for unlimited data plans on BlackBerry devices because of their always on nature to email that has made the BlackBerry the most popular smartphone / PDA on the planet. Truth be told, however, email uses a very small amount of data in the grand scheme of things. Web browsing, downloading attachments, and all the new multimedia things that you can do on the latest model BlackBerrys are what eat up bandwidth.

Additionally, these are the things that would be best suited for using a Wi-Fi connection for if one was available. By the BlackBerry 8800 not being 3G, it’s users may become all too familiar with switching to Wi-Fi mode when it is available. In fact, users may start to opt out of those unlimited data plans, simply because Wi-Fi is faster and possibly even free. Remember, email doesn’t actually use all that much data.

Oh, and let’s not forget about Voice Over IP. Can you imagine a BlackBerry with Skype Client that for around $30 bucks per year a user could make unlimited calls in the U.S. and Canada? The Wireless carriers can.

That’s why wireless carriers hate Wi-Fi.

  • happiicamper

    I totally agree!!!

  • happiicamper

    I totally agree!!!

  • Paul

    I can see the wireless carriers hating WiFi. Used to have a HP IPAQ and loved the wifi. Did not have push e-mail like my BB does, but all I needed was a wifi signal and I could tell it to retrieve e-mail, respond, send etc. While home I could let it connect to my wireless router and do the same. All with no fees to any carrier, unless you count the fee for my broadband at home.

  • Paul

    I can see the wireless carriers hating WiFi. Used to have a HP IPAQ and loved the wifi. Did not have push e-mail like my BB does, but all I needed was a wifi signal and I could tell it to retrieve e-mail, respond, send etc. While home I could let it connect to my wireless router and do the same. All with no fees to any carrier, unless you count the fee for my broadband at home.

  • Stac

    This is a fallacy, IMHO. It’s a matter of the manufacturers caving to the carriers… Something that I would have hoped would be long in the past given what a number Steve Jobs did on Cingular with the iPhone.

    If RIM insisted on giving it’s customers WiFi, and wouldn’t take no for an answer from Cingular/at&t, then we’d have the WiFi we so desire.

    Why do the 8125, 8525, and other Windows mobile phones have WiFi and the 8800 does not? It’s long overdue for RIM to give it’s customers what they want rather than giving Cingular what it wants.

    -S

  • Stac

    This is a fallacy, IMHO. It’s a matter of the manufacturers caving to the carriers… Something that I would have hoped would be long in the past given what a number Steve Jobs did on Cingular with the iPhone.

    If RIM insisted on giving it’s customers WiFi, and wouldn’t take no for an answer from Cingular/at&t, then we’d have the WiFi we so desire.

    Why do the 8125, 8525, and other Windows mobile phones have WiFi and the 8800 does not? It’s long overdue for RIM to give it’s customers what they want rather than giving Cingular what it wants.

    -S

  • http://itsreallyjustme.net/ justelise

    I don’t think this conversation should be limited to WiFi. What about GPS? Didn’t verizon cripple the GPS on their 8700 series Blackberry? What purpose did that serve? They couldn’t figure out how to overcharge their customers for using it, so they had the functionality crippled before they would sell the handset.

    This whole debate shouldn’t be aimed at one carrier. They are all guilty of it and they’re all guilty of everything they can do to lock people in or find a way to charge them for using every feature their device has.

  • http://itsreallyjustme.net justelise

    I don’t think this conversation should be limited to WiFi. What about GPS? Didn’t verizon cripple the GPS on their 8700 series Blackberry? What purpose did that serve? They couldn’t figure out how to overcharge their customers for using it, so they had the functionality crippled before they would sell the handset.

    This whole debate shouldn’t be aimed at one carrier. They are all guilty of it and they’re all guilty of everything they can do to lock people in or find a way to charge them for using every feature their device has.

  • Thought

    Totally agree on why the carriers are reluctant to embrace WiFi.

    However, it would be interesting to know the dynamics of exactly why and how so many Windows Mobile devices have WiFi. I’m not so sure it’s because previous WM pda’s had that feature and carriers felt compelled to allow that as some sort of legacy inclusion. With Palm, their Treos don’t have WiFi.

    My guess is that it may just be plain old pressure from Microsoft, just like it was most likely pressure from Apple that allowed the iPhone to have WiFi. I have to agree with Stacy, that it seems the manufacturer has to push back in order to get this feature in. Of course, Microsoft and Apple do have clout that most other vendors do not or at least don’t think they do.

  • Thought

    Totally agree on why the carriers are reluctant to embrace WiFi.

    However, it would be interesting to know the dynamics of exactly why and how so many Windows Mobile devices have WiFi. I’m not so sure it’s because previous WM pda’s had that feature and carriers felt compelled to allow that as some sort of legacy inclusion. With Palm, their Treos don’t have WiFi.

    My guess is that it may just be plain old pressure from Microsoft, just like it was most likely pressure from Apple that allowed the iPhone to have WiFi. I have to agree with Stacy, that it seems the manufacturer has to push back in order to get this feature in. Of course, Microsoft and Apple do have clout that most other vendors do not or at least don’t think they do.

  • Seopad

    The US carriers are such crap. They nickel and dime you every chance they get. In euro countries you dont get that BS.

  • Seopad

    The US carriers are such crap. They nickel and dime you every chance they get. In euro countries you dont get that BS.

  • Seopad

    The US carriers are such crap. They nickel and dime you every chance they get. In euro countries you dont get that BS.

  • Seopad

    The US carriers are such crap. They nickel and dime you every chance they get. In euro countries you dont get that BS.

  • tev

    Questions! Why American consumers put up with such unfair charges from the carriers??? Are they so blind to easily give their hard earn money to make the carriers even powerful?

  • tev

    Questions! Why American consumers put up with such unfair charges from the carriers??? Are they so blind to easily give their hard earn money to make the carriers even powerful?

  • http://nationwidevpn.com/ Mark Tomin

    Another parallel could be drawn with Nokia E61. In order to make appearance in the U.S. with Cingular, Nokia had to strip it of Wi-Fi and some other features, making it Nokia E62. You cannot buy any non-grey market E series Nokia (or any Nokia phone with Wi-Fi for that matter) in USA.

    Nationwide VPN provides secured VPN connectivity, enhanced security VPN and VPN encryption.

  • http://nationwidevpn.com Mark Tomin

    Another parallel could be drawn with Nokia E61. In order to make appearance in the U.S. with Cingular, Nokia had to strip it of Wi-Fi and some other features, making it Nokia E62. You cannot buy any non-grey market E series Nokia (or any Nokia phone with Wi-Fi for that matter) in USA.

    Nationwide VPN provides secured VPN connectivity, enhanced security VPN and VPN encryption.

  • john

    I think wifi is good for cellular customers. Even though they might have to strip some features. Being able to go onlline on your phone is a big must in this day of age. http://showmethebroadband.com

  • john

    I think wifi is good for cellular customers. Even though they might have to strip some features. Being able to go onlline on your phone is a big must in this day of age. http://showmethebroadband.com