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RIM Crippling BlackBerry Bluetooth Speed? 96

Posted by kdawson
from the not-so-fast-guv'nor dept.
Alex King writes " I organized a bounty for the creation of a 'BlackBerry as a modem' solution for Mac OS X earlier this year. The resulting product — Pulse, from Brain Murmurs — allows you to use your BlackBerry as a standard Bluetooth modem. It works great on both Windows and Mac. Current problem: The Pulse solution doesn't run as fast as it used to. Brain Murmurs did a bunch of testing and working with their users and found the problem: RIM has crippled the Bluetooth speeds in recent OS upgrades. Is this a 'mistake' on RIM's side that will be fixed? Or did they do this on purpose for some reason?"
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RIM Crippling BlackBerry Bluetooth Speed?

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  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @12:24AM (#17218806) Homepage Journal
    Maybe the author of the blog should have considered asking RIM what the problem is?

    I guess the point of the blog (and the trollish /. headline) is to generate plenty of hits to a page which extolls the virtues of the software & software house in question.
    • Maybe the author of the blog should have considered asking RIM what the problem is?

      I agree.

      I don't see how anyone here on Slashdot, short of being an employee of RIM, will be able to answer your question without pulling wild speculation out of their ass.

      • by nonlnear (893672) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @12:52AM (#17218986)
        ...without pulling wild speculation out of their ass.
        But isn't that what Slashdot is all about? Well, that and goatse
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mfh (56)
        I don't see how anyone here on Slashdot, short of being an employee of RIM, will be able to answer your question without pulling wild speculation out of their ass.

        I don't work at RIM but I can tell you from the vast depths of my own experience as a coder -- if some code has changed, it was probably intentional. Coders are lazy (therefore opposed to making unplanned deliberate changes) and we also have the cushiest jobs in the universe (apart from Wil Wheaton's sideline gig at SG [suicidegirls.com] -- the lucky bastard!!!). Al
      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by davidsyes (765062)
        I wonder how many could pull out a speculum (I learned in the 7th grade in Texas in Sex Ed class in 1980 what a speculum was... I think not many states at that time exposed kids to speculums, IUDs, and condoms....) OR a frackin' LASER BEAM out....

        I bet some of the Japan Slashdot stuff, if translated to eigo-wa, would be esoteric, but interesting. Hey, Slash, how's about it? I'm a Japanophile with very inferior Nihongo skills. But, I'd LOVE to read the local J-Slash pages. That might be more fruitful for som
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I think he's actually look to get employment with RIM. You know. A position at RIM. A career with RIM. In other words
    • by crazyray (776321) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @02:04AM (#17219356)
      Dear AlexKing, Instead of accusing RIM of disabling your "bountied" software, why don't you open source it so that we can all look for bugs in the implementation? After all, when the bounty was offered no one told any of the contributors that this would be for a commercial, closed source product, and many of us who contributed to the project are angry and disappointed that it was hijacked for a proprietary, closed project. Open it up!!!
      • by Macthorpe (960048)
        These people gave someone their time and effort for free without getting the assurances that their work would be used in the manner that they feel it should be?

        Sounds to me like these people were gullible and/or stupid and are blaming someone else for being so utterly naive as to automatically assume that any project with volunteer contributors is open-source.
      • by mumkin (28230) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @06:41AM (#17220620) Journal
        Alex King doesn't own the software... he organized the bounty to encourage someone else to undertake it.

        It was a pretty small bounty -- $675 -- and I think he lays out his reasoning quite cogently in this blog post [alexking.org].
      • Swap for an 8100 and use this script.
        Script for the 8100 [fibble.org]

        If you're stuck with an 8700 and in legal reach of this guy, read on.

        It might be more than just a pppd that is aware to bluetooth connections, but that'd be the general direction to look when cutting this guy at the pass. Dont worry, he'll be humbled when there's someone that does it without the Ivory Tower mindset. There was some talk about porting existing stuff from some linux app to OS X, IIRC.

        As for the other posts before me in this thread, Alexki
    • Before looking for a communist under every bush, consider that there are quite a few things to get right to get BT working. A BT driver depends on other drivers (eg often serial drivers) and slight changes in the realtime behaviour of drivers can cause link errors which cause corruptions and retires etc and ultimately reduce BT throughput. Extra interrupts etc in the system can easily cause BT errors.
      • by arivanov (12034) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @06:02AM (#17220436) Homepage
        That would have been the case with any BT driver and any BT product but crackberry. The crackberry is usually placed by operators on all-you-can-eat plans which presume only mail access to the crackberry server. The crackberry server eats surprisingly (actually the best word is phenomanally) little bandwidth. 1Kbit average per 20 users is normal. As a result the operators can afford all-you-can-eat without a problem. The moment the users start actively using it for data these assumptions go out of the window.

        So, I would not be surprised if the operators demanded the feature and the feature got rolled out quietly. In other words, I would not be surprised if there is a communist hidden in the Bush.
      • looking for a communist under every bush

        Can't we have a single discussion on /. without politics?
    • by KillerCow (213458)

      Maybe the author of the blog should have considered asking RIM what the problem is?

      Why? So they can get a form response telling them to reinstall their drivers and upgrade to the latest firmware (even though that caused the problem).

      Have you ever tried to get through a support channel to tell a vendor about an actual flaw in their product? Most of the time, the first tier support guys don't listen to you at all and try to get rid of you as quickly as possible. If you do get someone who has any skill or k

  • by MrNonchalant (767683) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @12:37AM (#17218882)
    We here at Slashdot will rationally analyze all the nuances of your question before replying with a well-researched and neutral opinion. You just wait.
  • by nxtw (866177) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @12:56AM (#17219010)
    I've got a Samsung Blackjack with Cingular HSDPA. On the phone itself or via USB, I can pull 700kbit/sec down on a bandwidth test.

    Yet over Bluetooth network access profile, I can only get around 300kbit/sec. Both devices are Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, and I'm using the Widcomm Bluetooth stack that came with the laptop. The network devices claims a connection at 700kbit/sec, and the theoretical maximum of 2.0+EDR is 2.1MBit/sec IIRC.

    Any ideas?
    • Look around. Maybe someone is invading your Bluetooth personal space?

      "Back off buddy! This bandwidth ain't big enough for the both of us!"

    • Any ideas?

      What BT speeds can you get with other devices similarly situated?

      • by nxtw (866177)
        Well, my friend has a Cingular 8525 (HTC TyTn) with HSDPA and gets similar results -- slower speeds on Bluetooth than via USB/the device itself.

        His laptop has Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, but his phone does not have EDR (just Bluetooth 2.0). Seems like my devices don't want to use EDR for some reason.
    • Yes, I have an idea. Quit whining. Many of us are still stuck in 1X/RTT land and we don't want to hear about your TERRIBLE problem of only 300kbit/sec download speeds when running in BT Tethered mode. :)
  • Is this a 'mistake' on RIM's side that will be fixed? Or did they do this on purpose for some reason?
    Do you think anyone here is honestly qualified to answer this question? Or are you just spreading fud?
     
    • by ifdef (450739)
      Actually, yes, there are RIM employees who read and post to Slashdot.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by PinkPanther (42194)
        yes, there are RIM employees who read and post to Slashdot.
        My god man! Do you realize what you are proposing? Canadians on Slashdot ??!!?? Oh, the horror.
  • You abuse their network with your modem software. They have a network designed for messaging, and you want to send huge files over it. I don't blame them for wanting to cripple a capability that they never wanted to sell you.

    You get what you pay for. Usually.
    • by waldo2020 (592242) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @01:18AM (#17219132)
      RIM didn't design the cell phone network, dorkwad. RIM the other devices work over the approved and paid for data channels. If you are paying $80/mo for "unlimited data" you better damn well get what the system can handle. And FYI, CDMA and GSM systems use a time division multiplex method so it's not like a cable modem link shared with the neighbourhood; you can't choke the whole system by being a data-hog, at most you can consume your alloted time-slice.
      • by muftak (636261)
        With WCDMA and HSDPA, etc you can hog the whole cell site. The backhaul bandwidth is normally only 2Mbits to each sector, so one user can saturate it.
      • by rickb928 (945187)
        CDMA - Code Division Multiple Access
        GSM is derived somewhat from TDMA - Time Division Multiple Access

        Even *I* know this.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jimithing DMB (29796)

        Wow.. this is so wrong:

        RIM didn't design the cell phone network, dorkwad. RIM the other devices work over the approved and paid for data channels. If you are paying $80/mo for "unlimited data" you better damn well get what the system can handle. And FYI, CDMA and GSM systems use a time division multiplex method so it's not like a cable modem link shared with the neighbourhood; you can't choke the whole system by being a data-hog, at most you can consume your alloted time-slice.

        As other replies have ment

    • No, fact check. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadinNO@SPAMxoxy.net> on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @02:06AM (#17219372) Homepage Journal
      When you use a Blackberry as a GSM modem, the data never (or at least, shouldn't ever) travels over RIM's network. It's not like you're chunking a file into little pieces and attaching it to emails. It's just using the Blackberry's connection to the cellular network to transfer data.

      If the cellular company didn't want you doing that, they could certainly ratelimit you, but generally most people using smartphones have an unlimited-data plan, which would let them use a PC Card-style GSM modem or other type of phone to push as many packets as they wanted. The cellular infrastructure is designed to give data service a lower priority than voice calls, and it's all designed with QoS in mind -- this isn't like your neighborhood cable modem setup. I know that T-Mobile doesn't mind if you use full-speed Internet access on your EDGE device; that's included in the $30/mo extra you pay for data access. (I assume if you were really abusive in some way, they might cut you off, but that's not the issue here.)

      I think that this guy should send a polite letter to RIM asking what the deal is. I don't get if it's an all-over Blackberry issue, or a PC/Mac one, where PC users can do this modem thing at full speed, and Mac users get a reduced rate. If that's the case, then it's fairly odd. But more likely, I tend to wonder if they didn't just drop the rate on the BT connection because they never figured that anybody would be doing anything with it other than using BT headsets and syncing data with their desktop computer from time to time. Maybe the lower connection prevents packet loss in other circumstances. At any rate, it seems odd for them to crap so obviously over a feature, particularly one that some of their competitors' products offer.
  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@beauTOKYO.org minus city> on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @01:05AM (#17219064)
    Haven't seen an IP over RF provider who didn't start ruthlessly choking off bandwidth to anyone who actually consumes more than a few sips of their 'high speed Internet' products. It is OK if you do a few short bursts now and again, that is the usage model they built their network around. A Blouetooth connection to a laptop implies more than that so once the network operator noticed they had users USING their network they acted quickly to fix the problem.

    The crux of the problem is that no RF system that has been deployed has enough bandwidth to supply 'broadbad' like connectivity to very many people at the same time. So the early adopters get it good, tell their friends and watch it all turn to crap. Unless we see microcells on every lamppost we aren't likely to ever solve the problem either. And no amount of marketing promises can change it, you can't repeal the laws of physics.

    Cable modems had exactly the same problem of a shared resource quickly becoming overused. The cable industry could solve it by breaking up their originally simplistic network into lots of small segments because they could string FIBER to backhaul all of the neighborhood networks. Unless the wireless companies want to do likewise they are never going to be a player in the broadband game as anything other than a niche product priced high (billed by the bit) enough to limit usage to the available spectrum.
  • by TellarHK (159748)
    When did RIM get bought out by Verizon?
  • by toadlife (301863) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @01:31AM (#17219204) Journal
    Since the question of this story is rather pointless, I'll go slightly off topic.

    One thing that RIM is "crippling" is 911 systems across the nation. My wife and I both have one of those new Blackberry 8100 Pearl smartphones. It's really nice, except for one major flaw. When the phone is locked, pressing the scroll wheel once, rolling it down and pressing it again automatically makes a call to 911 - and there is no way to turn it off. It may seem like with three actions required (press, roll, press), it wouldn't be that easy to accidentally make a call, but my two year old son disagrees. He has made at least ten 911 calls over the last week on mine and my wifes phones combined and a couple of times the calls were triggered when the phone was just sitting in my pocket.

    With all of our previous phones, we would lock them and if my son picked them up it would be no big deal. Now, we are forced to either have our phones on us at all time, or put them on the top of the fridge or some other extremely inaccessible place.

    I've put a request in to RIM to make it so you can disable that feature in their next software update. Hopefully they listen.
    • t may seem like with three actions required (press, roll, press), it wouldn't be that easy to accidentally make a call, but my two year old son disagrees. He has made at least ten 911 calls over the last week on mine and my wifes phones combined...

      The solution here is to not let your 10 year old son play with your Blackberry. You don't leave your double-edged razor blades out too, do you?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DrKyle (818035)
        You can teach a TEN year old not to play with your phone, but a TWO year old isn't going to listen to your explanation about not playing with it to dial 911 by accident.

        A phone is not a razor blade, grenade or flame thrower. I let my kids play with my phone (when locked), the remote, the mouse and keyboard on the computer (with Toddlerkeys [ms11.net] enabled). They see their parents hitting buttons and doing things and they want to emulate us to some extent and see what the big deal is about and their curiosity sho
        • I let my kids play with my phone...

          If you yourself find it hard to avoid calling 911, your 2 or 10 year old will do better? If your kidd is calling 911 5 and 10 times fiddling with your phone, they should give you a big fat ticket for letting him / her. I mean, come on.

      • by toadlife (301863)
        No, but I'd be sure to leave them out if I was watching your kids.
      • by khallow (566160)
        Not that long ago, a phone was not a razor blade. There was only so much a 2 year old could do. Sure they could accidentally mash the right buttons to get 911, but it didn't happen much.
    • IIRC, it's actually press, roll, press, roll, press. When you select the "Emergency call" option, there's a confirmation prompt.
    • I don't know why all the replies to your post have been so pointless, talking about parenting and how it's not that easy to do...anyway, I happen to agree with you - I accidentally dialed 911 taking it out of my pocket. I have an 8700, and merely scrolling the wheel brings up the prompt...thus, "Emergency Call" is only one easy wheel click down from being in a "locked" state. To get the phone out of your pocket, obviously, you have to grab the sides, where the scroll wheel happens to be...I must have hit
    • by Siker (851331)
      Gotta love those extremely inaccessible places. Area 51, the moon, abyssal plains, the fridge...
    • When the phone is locked, pressing the scroll wheel once, rolling it down and pressing it again automatically makes a call to 911 - and there is no way to turn it off.

      The BlackBerry 8100 "Pearl" has a standby mode. Instead of holding down "*" to look the keyboard, like you did with earlier BlackBerry models, hold down the mute button, which is a small silver button on the top of the phone. This will put the phone into Standby, which is a low-power mode where the screen is black and no buttons function o

  • Even with products like the PDA cell phones with all-out broadband access competing with the blackberry, these people still don't feel they have to worry about the free market.

    Which is why I decided to forego the blackberry and get a Treo.
  • .... what you can blame on incompetency.

    I don;t think the company delibrately did it. What do they have to gain from it?
    Must have been a f*ck up somewhere in developing the stuff.
  • Thats just silly (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pablo_max (626328)
    Did anyone actually look at the feature with RIM claims on the Bluetooth PICS? I guess not. Can it be that they are supporting the faster modulation? Even if it were bluetooth 2.0, they are not required to support 4-DPQSK and 8-DPSK. Basic GMSK modulation is all that is mandatory. It's not really possible to lower the speed in the ways they suggest actually. It's clear that this person really knows nothing about Bluetooth at all. Check out the core spec at bluetooth.com
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      So it's not possible to comply with the spec yet have the software side of things rate-limit stuff fed to the Bluetooth stack...? Or otherwise break things on the software side to hurt performance?

      Your crap about modulation modes is irrelevant; after an 'upgrade' to the blackberry software suddenly the throughput through the stack is a lot less. The fact that there are a limited quanta of symbol rates over the air does not preclude limiting application layer performance through a variety of means, intenti
    • by mollymoo (202721)
      It's not really possible to lower the speed in the ways they suggest actually.

      It would be incredibly trivial to rate-limit Bluetooth 2.0, just as you can rate-limit any other networking stack - you just feed the packets to it more slowly.

  • by mtmra70 (964928) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @08:43AM (#17221382)
    In other news, Nextel acquitted on accusations of crippling BT data speeds. The Judge replied, "Simply, they do not offer data over BT. I could not rule them guilty over something they do not offer".

    Nextel was over more than happy with this ruling and stated they will continue to not offer many other services.
    • It's funny because it's true. Sometimes I think Nextel should simply change their name to Previoustel.
  • Over here on the other side of the Atlantic in Scandinavia, not only the hardware companies but also the telcos plug BT connections very hard as part fof their marketing. In other words it comes as no surprise that a Nokia E61 (or Sony Ericsson P990i, etc) can be used as a BT modem with the 3G network out of the box, giving excellent speeds. I do it daily travelling on business across Europe from OS X/XP/Linux laptops. The Nokia E61 (et al) also matches (and/or surpasses) the feature set of the Blackberry,
  • Slow Bluetooth on Blackberry? Who greenlighted this decision? This makes me see red. If they ever catch the yellow, lily-livered blackguard, I hope they give him a pink slip. - - Orange you glad I stopped after two lines?
  • Either this guy hosts his blog on his Blackberry, or he's slashdotted.
  • A little bit of the point has been missed here. Sadly, Bluetooth has devolved from a wireless communication protocol to a marketing idiom by industries which are more driven to leverage the moniker than adhere to the protocol itself. Unlike IEEE's 802.11 protocols, which focus on data transfer which by nature cannot be altered, Bluetooth offers a protocol that drives a smörgåsbord of services, which were intended to be delivered as a package yet in reality are being cherry-picked to insert into d
  • Older model BlackBerrys (i.e. pre-Pearl) do not support Bluetooth dialup networking, so anything that makes this work is a hack and should be expected to work as such.

    The Pearl, however (and most likely the not-yet-released 8800) *does* support this, and it does it with the standard Bluetooth profile for doing this sort of thing - no hack required. I regularly connect my laptop through my Pearl over Bluetooth, and it works beautifully in both OS X and Windows. It's not very speedy, but I do get 10-15k/

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