Bell is now crippling GPS on BlackBerry

This is a story that is making it way around the tech crowd a lot this but has not gotten a lot and lot of media attention elsewhere yet. The Boy Genius Report Blog reports that:

Over the next few weeks, Bell may be increasing the GPS lock time (2-10 minutes) and resolution (1-2.5KM) of Third Party applications while maintaining the speed (10-15s) and accuracy (10-25m) of their own GPS Nav program.

What this means is that from now on, unless you are using Bell’s $10/month GPS application GPSNav, your precise location will be greatly disabled and you will most likely be look for the Bell Centre somewhere the Old Forum. Justin case you still don’t quite get it. You buy a $600 BlackBerry with a built-in GPS receiver like the Pearl 2, the Curve or the World Edition and then you sign up for a $30/month voice and as well and a $25-60 per month data feature and then one time you get lost, Bell wants to charge you anyhwere between $3.50 per day to $10 per month rather than let you use the BlackBerry’s Free as in Beer maps icon that is right there on the home screen waiting for you to click on . Ahh now you get it and you’re thinking that Bell Sucks right? Of course they do, because they are already throttling your data connection whenever you use your device as a modem for the very handsome fee of $12 per Mb when you bust out of your HUGE 4Mb cap. That is right I said MEGABYTE and not GIGABYE! You want a Gig, Bell will hit you up for a nice brown note every month for the priviledge.

I seem to rant about Bell far too often but they really are infuriating. They have complete and utter disregard for their user base and only ever act on any complaint when the user demands to speak to cancellations (retentions), at which point they either remind you that you will have a to pay a penalty ranging anywhere up to and perhaps beyond $400 in order to cancel your line. If you are very luck or angry enough they offer you some amazing deal they would never offer even their most loyal customer in order fo you to re-sign you to a contract and allow you to sell your soul for another 36 months. …Breathe… …breathe… But don’t worry too much Phalus, Robbers are all the same even in their Mutt and Voodoo incarnations.

Getting back to the GPS issue at hand. Bell have really shot themselves in the foot here, especially as Robbers now have the iPhone which not only has MS Exchange support for push email but also has a far superior GPS/Wireless triangulation chip onthe device than the BlackBerry. This week also saw the launch of the Android G1 phone from HTC and T-Mobile which also heavily promotes the Google Maps 2.3.1 release with added Street View. Although Street view is not yet available in Canada, it does allow for some awesome landmark “point of view visionning” for those times when you are staring at the Maps screen and can’t makes sense of your location even in sattelite mode. All these tools are very powerfull and best of all free to use, so disabling their precision is not only anti-competitive on Bell’s behalf but is also just a complete lack vision. The way that Google, BlackBerry and Apple have designed their GPS applications is so that they still rely on your data connection to download the bits of the maps or street view images from the Cloud (yeah I just said cloud) rather than storing all the data on your device. This not only saves you room on the device but it also allows for the user to always have the most up to date location aware data as possible. It also allows the carrier to make make quite a mint on your data usage, especially the way Bell offers it’s extremely low cap data plans. One afternoon lost in Toronto or Vancouver could very easily see me exceed a 4Mb cap and be into the $12/Mb premium usage. So by scrambling your position, they are making your device useless, since you’ll hail a cab for a fiver rather pay $3.50 per day plus data transfer fees.

The most frustrating part of this proposed GPS scramble is that no one will ever develop a Timmies application for the BlackBerry like the one for the iPhone. Timmies let’s you know with one click where the nearest Tim Hortons is, if you are aready off by 2.5 Km you could
end up driving further than you need to, end up late for your meeting or interview and possibly even lose your job. Well done Bell for throwing an already fragile economy into even more turmoil and angst.

Once again Bell, I award you with this week’s “YOU SUCK” award!

2 comments

  1. A Timmies locator for the iPhone!?!?! Suddenly the Bb Thunder isn’t worth waiting for anymore! Mmmmmm, Timmies, I’ll be right back…

  2. Things are really heating up on this, I found this quote from Bell on Howard Forums this morning. It officially states Bell position on Crippling the free services in favour of the $10/month GPSNav. Which I would like to point out does locate the nearest Tim Hortons for you.

    The quote:

    “Bell strategy With this network change, Bell aims at improving the efficiency and at reducing network costs by restricting unauthorized clients from accessing the user plane platform.

    Client positioning • Clients should be using GPS Nav from Bell Mobility to receive more accurate locates as this service is intended to pinpoint your geographic location for navigation purposes
    • High quality locates are only available by using GPS Nav – this is a turn by turn navigation software which utilizes the Bell Mobility network to provide highly accurate GPS location information in seconds.”