Selecting a Blackberry Model

These notes were taken from an email from Cathy Cooper, ODAA

Info for selecting a BB model

  • As you can imagine, there are pros and cons for each of the models. It’s really a matter of how much you value each of the characteristics. So, I’ll point you to a couple of websites that you’ll find useful:

  •;jsessionid=1c30172c30ac6ae66724TR - This website provides pictures of the various models and allows you to do a side-by-side comparison.
  • Good tri-band models are the 7780 and 7730, since each has a nice large, clear display. However, the 7780 lacks the 900MHz GSM network, most common in Europe and Asia Pacific; the 7730 lacks the 850MHz GSM network, most common in rural North America.
  • If you don’t mind the “squatter” models, you should opt for the 7290. This model supports all four major GSM networks, so it’s a good choice if you expect to be traveling a great deal.

  • (Specific for ODAA: Note that other users have the 7780. Each is on their BB a significant amount each day, so a large easy-to-read display over-rode the loss of the 900MHz GSM network.) (ie. better day-to-day use over-rode occasional travel to Europe/Asia) Others at UW have opted for the 7290 since they travel internationally a lot.

  • To see which networks are used in specific countries, you should refer to GSM Cell Phone Bands and Countries

  • You should be aware that NONE of the BBs will work in Japan or South Korea.

UW’s website for Blackberry info

Excerpts from the GSM webpage:

Two frequency bands are used by GSM services in the US. Two different frequency bands are used by GSM services elsewhere in the world.

Which frequencies are used in the US?

Originally, the US used only 1900 MHz for its GSM cell phone service. In the last year or so, there has been a growing amount of GSM service on the 850 MHz band. This type of service will usually be seen in rural areas, because the 850 MHz band has better range than the 1900 MHz band. It can sometimes also found in city areas, particularly if the cell phone company has spare frequencies unused in the 850 MHz band, but no remaining frequencies to use in the 1900 MHz band.

Most of the 850 MHz service belongs to AT&T, and some to Cingular (these two companies are in the process of merging). Although T-Mobile does not (as of July 04) have any of its own 850 MHz service, because it has roaming agreements with both AT&T and Cingular, even a T-mobile user might sometimes find themselves in an area where the only signal available is on 850 MHz.

Do you need both frequencies in the US?

This really depends on the areas in which you use your cell phone. If you're in a major metropolitan area, you probably won't need the 850 MHz band, but if you travel to secondary areas regularly, you will find the extra coverage of the 850 MHz band to be valuable.

Looking into the future, it is probable we'll see increased use of 850 MHz to expand GSM's overall coverage into more of the country.

And then, looking further into the future, it is possible we'll see 1900 MHz coverage duplicating the 850 MHz coverage.

Bottom line : If you travel out of the main cities, you'll definitely benefit from a phone that supports both 850 MHz and 1900 MHz.

Which frequencies are used internationally?

GSM was originally developed in Europe, and only came to the US recently.

Initially, all countries with GSM service used the 900 MHz band. In the past few years, service providers have increasingly been adding 1800 MHz coverage, due to congestion in the 900 MHz band.

When the US started to use GSM, a few other countries with very close links to the US chose to copy the US and use the same frequencies that the US used - first 1900 MHz, and in a few cases, 850 MHz also.

Almost without exception, all international countries that use the non-US international frequency bands have 900 MHz service, and many have some 1800 MHz service as well.

All international countries that have the US frequency bands have 1900 MHz service. A very few might also have some 850 MHz service.

Which frequencies do you need when traveling internationally?

That depends on the countries you plan to visit.

Refer to the table below to get a feeling for which countries use which frequency bands. For a more expanded set of information, complete with network coverage maps, refer to the official GSM Association's website.

As the table suggests, 900 MHz is the most common band used internationally. 1800 MHz will give you expanded coverage in countries that also have 900 MHz. And some countries only have 1900 MHz rather than 900 or 1800 MHz.

Note that countries with both 900 and 1800 MHz service generally provide better coverage in the 900 MHz band than in the 1800 MHz band.

Which bands should you get on your phone?

If used only in the US

If you intend to use your phone only in the US, then get a dual band phone that has both 850 MHz and 1900 MHz.

A single band phone with only 1900 MHz will give almost as good coverage.

If used only internationally

If you intend to use your phone only internationally, then decide if you'll be using the phone in countries that use the international frequencies, or in countries that use the US frequencies, or in both.

If you only need to use the phone in countries with international frequencies, get a dual band 900/1800 MHz phone. A single band phone with only 900 MHz will give reasonably good coverage, but most international phones these days have both bands.

If you need to use the phone in countries that also have the US 1900 MHz frequency, get a tri-band phone with 900/1800/1900 MHz.

If used in both the US and internationally

Two frequencies are 'must have' frequencies - 900 and 1900 MHz. The other two bands are nice to also have, with 1800 MHz typically opening up more of foreign countries than 850 MHz would open up in the US.

Ideally the best solution is to get a quad-band phone with all four bands.

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Topic revision: r1 - 2005-10-31 - LawrenceFolland
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