This question seems to be coming up a lot lately so I thought it was time to post an answer. Many AT&T and T-Mobile user who are fans of BlackBerry have been quite annoyed thatÂ Verizon Wireless is currently the only US carrier to carry the first and only touch screen BlackBerry smartphone the BlackBerry Storm.Â The Storm has a dual network capability , so some users have asked can the BlackBerry Storm be used on AT&T or T-Mobile? AndÂ the answer to that question is yes and no.Â So that you may better understand the answer, you should understand the basics of the technology that the top four wireless carriers use and how it applies to BlackBerry.
Verizon and Sprint use a wireless technology called CDMA. CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access), a proprietary standard designed by Qualcomm in the United States, which has been the dominant network standard for North America and parts of Asia. CDMA was originally used as a form of secure communication by the US Military until it was sold off for commercial use. CDMA wireless technology is known to have a very secure, and offer a very clear call quality. CDMA technology does not support the use of SIM cards.
AT&T and T-Mobile use a wireless technology called GSM. GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) is a cellular phone protocol that is popular in many parts of the world, and is a chief competitor to the CDMA protocol here in the United States. In fact, for those who have CDMA phones, they may find if they go to other parts of the world, such as Europe, their cellular phones will not work. The GSM mobile phone standard is more popular in more places, simply because the standard has been around longer, and was considered by many to be superior to CDMA, at least initially. GSM technology uses SIM cards that allows the user to move their service from phone to phone just by removing the SIM card and placing it into another device.
So as you can see CDMA and GSM are both wireless cellular technology, but just like the difference between a Mac and PC, both are computers but they both use very different and usually incompatible technologies. Now that you understand the basics of the two types of wireless technologies, GSM and CDMA, letâ€™s get to your question.
Starting back with the BlackBerry 8830 World Edition, Verizon Wireless and Sprint began offering BlackBerry devices which offered both CDMA service in the US and Asia and GSM service in other parts of the world. This BlackBerry had two built-in radio systems so that a user could use a SIM card provided by Verizon or Sprint to use while out of the US, and still be able to make and receive phone calls and BlackBerry Data services using their same US number. Verizon and Sprint both have beefed up their International BlackBerry devices with the Storm 1 and Storm 2 on Verizon and the BlackBerry Tour 9630 on both carriers.
Here is your Money Answer:
Originally with BlackBerry OS 4.7 on the BlackBerry Storm could be unlocked and be used with the GSM side of the device on AT&T and T-Mobile. The device would not support 3G or even EDGE data speeds, on GSM in the states and would fall back to a much earlier data standard of GPRS which is fast enough for email, but is horrible for web browsing and app downloads. BlackBerry OS 4.7 had some issues on the Storm, so to fix it RIM (Research in Motion) pushed out BlackBerry OS 5.0. Now this little OS fix not only made the Storm a more usable device, it also added a radio lock out that activates when the device detects a US carrier sim card. So, once a BlackBerry Storm has been upgraded to V5.0, the OS will not allow you to use the device on any U.S. GSM carrier. You can still unlock the device but you could onlyÂ use the unlocked GSM side of the device when you are out of the country. Sprintâ€™s BlackBerry Tour 9630 also will not allow use in the US with a SIM card. REMEMBER these devices were to be used with a SIM card only when traveling internationally.
Now it has been reported that if you are able to downgrade the Storms OS back to 4.7, you may still be able to use the device on GSM. No such luck with the BlackBerry Tour Iâ€™m afraid.. So is it really worth buying these devices, unlocking them and then trying to get them to work on AT&T orÂ T-Mobile?Â Not really, especially with a new GSM only touch screen and qwerty keyboard BlackBerry devices set to launch this year for possible AT&T and/ or T-Mobile. Now If you live outside the US then this maybe a good way to get a high-end blackberry at a great price with many people upgrading to the Storm2 or the new Bold for Verizon and Sprint.