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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Blackberry 8800 – Will my GPS Work Internationally? Not in Germany Either!

Yesterday I mentioned the problems I had with getting my GPS to work in India with Google Maps.

Well, now it appears that the problem is more world-wide with the Blackberry 8800 and that the GPS functionality will only work in the United States.

Why am I suggesting this? Well, during my lay-over in Frankfurt on Sunday -- I decided to test out the GPS (Gobal Positioning System) function on my Blackberry 8800 while connected to the German networks. While wandering around the International terminals at the Frankfurt airport, I tried several different times to locate a GPS signal.

However, each time I attempted to connect -- I received the same old message -- Signal to weak to pinpoint location. Assumption is now that the GPS functionality only works in the United States which is a complete bummer.

I'm going to give it a final try in Cancun & Cozumel, Mexico next week. Let's hope it works.

Have you had the GPS functionality work for you outside of the United States?

6 comments:

Shaan said...

My BlackBerry 8800 GPS worksd fine all over the world. remember the GPS unit in this phone is low power to not drain the battery and so it does not have the power of a dedicated GPS unit. This means most buildings and plains will most of the time block the signal but outside all is well. I have used my 8800 GPS in Europe even on the Swiss Alps as well as Costa Rica, Tasmania, and Sydney this year. I call it my TrackBerry. GPS is by satelite and worldwide. I also use a GisTECH PhotoTrackr to tag my photos with GPS locations.

Ken Hanscom said...

Yep, I am aware of the low power GPS and only tried it in outdoor locations -- no hills, mountains, etc. I tried to use mine in Frankfurt (outside air at the airport), as well as outside in Bangalore, New Delhi, and Agra with absolutely no luck. I wonder what the issue is?

I'll be in Cancun next week, so I will give it another try.

Michael Vellucci said...

I have been meaning to leave a comment on this for quite some time. Anyway, I completed a two month tour of Europe (got back into the good ol' States Friday 7/27) and I used my Cingular 8800 for voice, data and GPS just about everywhere in Europe...from the Czech Republic to Venice to Paris to Grenada. Here are some of my comments using the phone internationally...

TeleNav 5.1
TeleNav did not work save one feature, the compass. When I was able to pick up satellite coverage, I was able to tell my direction and speed. This was especially useful while on the trains. I wrote two emails to TeleNav's support team while abroad asking if there was any way I could get my TeleNav switched to Europe for the two months I was abroad. I did not hear back from them at all...didn't instill a great deal of confidence in me considering I just purchased a year subscription.

Google Maps
When I was able to pick up satellite coverage, this program worked great. Depending on my location and the speed of the cell towers in the area, Google Maps took more or less time loading. But the GPS coverage really was spotty. I was told to expect this from Cingular/ATT reps before going over there. I am not sure what the cause is. If I had to guess, I would suggest it is something with the rotation of the earth and the satellites that can be tasked for Cingular/ATT phones. I was in the car with my friend in London with a British GPS car unit that was able to pick up 4 satellites with no problems while my blackberry was not able to pick up any.

Voice Calls
Maybe I am just new to this feature (world phone capability) or haven't traveled to Europe in 2 years (to see the updates in cell infrastructure) but I was incredibly impressed with the blacyberry's crystal clear call quality when calling other US and international mobiles. I put in several calls to family and friends while abroad, and while the rate of $.99/minute is painful, I felt like I was next to the person. Unreal.

Email
For the majority of my trip, the blackberry's email worked seamlessly. Email messages were immediately delivered to my hip. However, after entering Spain, my blackberry started to queue messages and deliver them in allotments, if that makes sense. At odd hours of the day, several messages would suddenly arrive and then the phone would fall silent again for another several hours. I am not sure what the cause of this was...I know the global blackberry net when down while I was abroad, but the problem persisted on multiple networks in several countries. Once I got into Italy and hopped on to the Vodafone IT network my emails started populating correctly.

Bill Disputes
So, I thought I would leave just a little comment about this because I find it amusing. After using my blackberry for a month while abroad, I got the email notifying me my bill was ready for review. So I logged in expecting a bill for roughly $200 (my data plan is the int'l bb plan for $64.99 and my voice plan is for $59.99) to account for the voice calls when abroad. Well, my bill was for slightly over $1200. I almost threw my blackberry into a lake across the street that moment. As I reviewed my bill in Prague, it turned out I was being charged for GPRS Roaming at $0.02/KB. I had been using the internet on the handheld extensively.

Well I called Cingular/ATT and told them this is exactly why I called them three times before I left to confirm my plan with absolute clarity so I didn't end up with a hefty bill. Well, after some discussion with the techs and submitting a case for review, my bill was dropped down to $183. A relief for sure. I recieved an email a couple days later saying the issue was resolved and sorry for my inconvenience.

Anyway, those are my thoughts...hope they are helpful. Also I took some snaps of the GPS in some cool locations (crossing the English Channel by ferry for example), I can upload if interested.

badkarmaboy said...

My BB 8800 works at least in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Dubai, PR of China, Hong Kong and Macao. From time to time I have problems with picking up a signal, but switching between the application (Google Maps, BB Maps) and the GPS under advanced options normally fixes it.

Sadly enough neither Google nor Teleatlas have good maps (if any at all) of China. Not even Beijing! That's a real bummer.

Ken Hanscom said...

I was actually able to get my Blackberry to work on my recent trip to Cancun, Mexico which I will be posting on shortly. However it was quite spotty and Google Maps had absolutely no coverage in Mexico. There may actually be an issue with my 8800 as I have noticed some odd behavior internationally especially as it switches providers. The GPS only seems to work immediately after an Alt+Cap+Del reset on the device.

Heather said...

Okay guys! I need your help. I'm looking to buy a handheld GPS device as a gift. I have very little knowledge of the brands, but I do need it to be international capable. It will be going to someone living in England, but travels all over the world for work. My questions are: Are their specific devices for international use or are there places to upload maps? Will the devices find resturants and destinations along with terrains and geographics?

I've been searching online, but am not sure I know what it all means. I'm taking a stab in the dark, but you guys seem like international travelers. Thank You for any advice or direction. :)