To BIS or not BIS that is the question

BlackBerry BIS Confusion

One of the hottest and most talks about topics when it comes to BlackBerry 10 is all around the BIS and the lack therefore. So much so, that there is now confusion as to what will happen to the current BIS for BlackBerry user and what will happen into the future.

So allow me to explain by publically answering questions I have received:

What is BIS made up of ?

BIS stands for BlackBerry Internet Service which is made up of various components including BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Email, Social Networks (Twitter, Facebook etc.), Web Browsing, Apps via BlackBerry World and other Instant Messaging systems.

What is happening to BIS for current BlackBerry users ?

The current BlackBerry users (BlackBerry 7) will continue as they have in the past. Theses services are NOT being discontinued.

So if you have a BlackBerry contract your selected BIS plans are here to stay – stop panicking – you will still continue to enjoy these services at the flat fee like you have been for many years. No change.

Do I HAVE to upgrade to BlackBerry 10 ?

No. If you don’t want to upgrade to BlackBerry 10 you don’t need to. The current  BlackBerry range will still be available from the cellular networks into the future.

BlackBerry 7 is not being discontinued.

Will anything change for BlackBerry 7 unlimited BIS ?

The cellular networks have introduced a fair-usage policy. This came into effect way before BlackBerry 10 was announced.  Besides that, no change. Pay your chosen flat fee and BBM away!

So what does BlackBerry 10 have ?

BlackBerry 10 has the same features and facilities that the current BlackBerry 7 has. Not only can you still BBM on BlackBerry 10 but its a much more enriched experience.

When you use BlackBerry 10 you see that its not “just another BlackBerry” but its a  whole new experience leveraging everything that BlackBerry as we know it has to offer and enhancing it.  BlackBerry 10 is BlackBerry devices and software that are inline with,  and in some cases above,  all other smartphones.

So what about BIS for BlackBerry 10 ?

With BlackBerry 10 there is no “unlimited uncapped data at a flat fee”. This is what South Africa refers to as BIS which is where the confusion arises. With BlackBerry 10 this falls away however you still get the BIS components (BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Email, Social Networks (Twitter, Facebook etc.), Web Browsing, Apps via BlackBerry World and other Instant Messaging systems).

What you don’t get is the flat rate use as much data as you like.

So what is Unlimited BBM ?

Vodacom has announced that their BlackBerry packages will contain unlimited BBM until the 31st May. Cell C has announced that their packages will give users unlimited BBM forever.

This has yet again caused confusion.

What this means is that these cellular providers have chosen not to charge customers when they use their BBM. So these become “free” compared to when a BlackBerry user surfs the web or sends an email which is data that comes out of the data bundle.

The reason that BBM is free is because the BlackBerry network (APN) is still here. There are 80 million people around the world who use this APN and since its not being discontinued, all that these cellular provider do is send these BBM down the original BlackBerry APN as they did in the past. This is “zero rated” so its free.

I have never had a BlackBerry in my life, what do I need to get BlackBerry 10 and get a PIN ?

The only thing you need is a data bundle. No need to get a BlackBerry specific contract. In other words, you can walk into a store today and buy the Z10. Get a SIM card and load R100 worth of data. Create a BlackBerry ID in the BlackBerry World and that’s it. You can send your PIN to everyone. 

So in summary:

Only in South Africa do we used the terms “BIS” and “unlimited data” interchangeably. This is what we need to move away from.

BIS is still around.

If you are a current BlackBerry users – no change to your life.

If you are a new BlackBerry 10 users – you buy/get a data bundle as part of your package and you can still use all the BIS services. BBM all your old connection and tell them you are Back on BlackBerry

If there are any more questions, please feel free to keep them coming and I will try get answers for you.


  1. Good points. Thanks. The above is exactly the reason why many South African are getting nervous. The overall pricing and flat fee are the reasons why BB is still so big her in SA compared to other countries where flat fees are the norm. So big question for all of us will be how much does it cost us to upgrade compared to the old BB system. Or in other words will the BB 10 close the gap towards the Iphone 5 in terms of additional costs for surfing, bbm ect. I hope they keep their edge and keep on offering an competitive advantage.

  2. I am using an old BB curve (JS1 ?30712.JGPR1). I use BIS, and whatsapp. Notified no more whatsapp after Dec 2016, on my current phone. Are there any older BB phones (will buy 2nd hand),using BIS, which will still be able to download whatsapp after Dec.?

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