BlackBerry (BIS) Data Plans (updated July 1, 2013)

We are seeing many people report problems which are directly related to not having a BlackBerry (BIS) Data Plan. This article will explain why a BIS plan is important, provide background information related to BIS plans and offer help for those whose BIS is not working.

Note: This article is for people using BlackBerry OS5, OS6 & OS7 devices and does not apply to people running BB10 (Z10, Q10, Q5). If you have a BlackBerry  running BB10, you do not need to have a BIS plan and can ignore this article.

Remember that we are volunteer admins offering you free support for your BlackBerry questions and problems in our spare time. We’re not BlackBerry (formerly known as RIM) and we are not affiliated with BlackBerry. We sympathize with you or we wouldn’t be spending so much of our own time to volunteer here. So, please don’t shoot the messengers! 


What is a BlackBerry (BIS) Data Plan? BIS stands for BlackBerry Internet Service. RIM has published documentation for their BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) at

Many of you have asked why you need a BIS plan at all. People have asked us why they need to pay a cellular service provider for a BIS plan when they have access to a Wi-Fi network. Similarly, many people who do NOT have a BIS plan ask us why they don’t have access to BBM, Facebook and other features of your BlackBerry smartphone. The following is our understanding of BIS and why it is important:

  • Email and Research In Motion (RIM)’s apps on your SmartPhone, such as BBM & Facebook, route its data through RIM’s global network of BIS servers.
  • The BIS network provides an extremely high level of security (arguably unparalleled in mobile computing) to protect your data. Articles continue to come out regularly attesting to RIM’s significantly higher level of security than available on Android and iPhone smartphones. This is the reason that many of us decided to buy a BlackBerry in the first place. The result is that our data goes thru RIM’s proprietary BIS network and is protected by their extremely high level of security. This security protects our email and all data that comes through our BlackBerry devices.
  • RIM’s BIS servers also compress data so that data going from your BlackBerry to your cellular service provider uses half as much data as you would on other smartphones. So instead of using, for example, 1 GB of data on an Android or an iPhone, you will use roughly half of that, or 500 MB of data. Many cellular service providers now offer one unlimited data plan. However, others are faced with paying for data based on usage, or buying plans which rise in cost based on how much data you think you will use. So by compressing data, RIM is enabling you to buy a lower cost data plan than you would have to buy if you were using another smartphone. It also saves your cellular service provider’s network traffic and assists them to be able to serve more customers on the same network.
  • If you have a BIS plan, you can use WiFi (when you are out of range of your cellular network or when the cellular signal is not sufficient for transmitting data). So, if you have a BIS plan and only have WiFi access, then you have access to BIS services (such as email, BBM, Facebook, etc). This is related to configuration settings that only occur due to the fact that you have a BIS plan.
  • If you do not hava a BIS plan, then you do not have access to BIS services (email, BBM, Facebook, etc.) over WiFi.

Note that a BlackBerry (BIS) Data Plan is different from a Data Plan in general. If you used to use another smartphone and have switched to a BlackBerry, your cellular service provider will have to change your data plan to a BlackBerry (BIS) Data Plan. Otherwise, some features of your BlackBerry will not work.

Generally, it is our observation that BlackBerry (BIS) Data Plans cost the same or LESS than Data Plans generally. If you have switched Smartphones to a BlackBerry and are having trouble with data services, please contact your cellular service provider.


We strongly feel that every person buying a BlackBerry should be told that buying one without a BlackBerry (BIS) Data Plan is like buying a car without an engine. Put simply, without a BIS plan, you turn a BlackBerry smartphone into an old fashioned cell phone (calls & text messaging) plus a WiFi browser.


There are different kinds of BIS plans which are offered by cellular service providers:

  • Limited BIS plans: These are available at a lower price for people who don’t need all BIS functionality and may only use their BlackBerry smartphones for email or perhaps for email and Facebook. What will work on your BlackBerry depends on what is specifically included in the limited BIS plan which you may have subscribed to. Only your cellular service provider can provide information as to what is included in a limited BIS plan which you may have purchased.
  • Full BIS plans: These gives you access to email, BBM, Facebook, Twitter, etc… essentially, all features on your BlackBerry subject only to government restrictions in some countries.

It’s very easy to find out if you have BIS coverage.

  1. Go to Manage Connections > Service Status. Scroll down to “BlackBerry Internet Service”. Look to see what it says under that. If it says “not connected”, that is a sign that something is either wrong with your BIS setup on your BlackBerry or that you do not have a BIS subscription.
  2. The wireless network status indicator on the BlackBerry smartphone displays upper case 3G, EDGE,  GPRS, or 1XEV instead of GSM or lower case: 3g, edge, gprs, 3g, or 1xev. This indicates that you have cellular service but not data services. This may occur if your cellular signal becomes weak or if you are out of range for any reason. So, if your BIS shows “Connected” and you don’t see capitalized network status indicators, then you have a network problem or data is turned off.

If you have a problem with email, BBM, the Facebook for BlackBerry App or other features of your BlackBerry smartphone, there could be a problem with your BIS service. Do the following:

  1. Do a physical battery pull. With the BlackBerry on, remove the battery from the back panel. Wait a full 5 minutes before putting the battery back in. Your BlackBerry will restart. Depending on the model number and operating system, it could take anywhere from roughly 3 minutes to 10 minutes to restart.
  2. Register on the network. See RIM’s article at ..
  3. Send Service Books. See RIM’s article at …

If none of these work then you should contact your cellular service provider.

Note that if you do not plan to buy a BIS plan and still want to use Facebook on your BlackBerry, it is possible. Just use your WiFi and go to the BlackBerry Browser and load the Facebook mobile web page at Facebook supports it’s mobile web page at


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