1. Pocketcity's Avatar
    Verizon advertizes on its website, through its sales force and through its global support service that its BlackBerry "global" phones (phones that are capable of switching between CDMA and GSM systems) work in Tanzania and other parts of Africa. Specifically, not only will the telephone function work, but you will be able to use the data functions including email and BlackBerry Messenger. Readers of this thread should be very clear about this as of the summer of 2010. Verizon global BlackBerry phones are essentially useless in Tanzania. They do not work in the most heavily trafficked cities and regions including Dar Es Salaam, Arusha, Moshi and Zanzibar. They do not work whether you use an older World Edition or a newer Storm. They do not work even when U.S.-based Verizon support people are on the line with you trying to coax and force connectivity. The gap between Verizon claims and actual performance is so large that it represents corporate irresponsibility in my opinion.

    Two bad things happen when you rely on Verizon's claims. First, you risk personal safety by being in a developing country with little to no connectivity. Second, adding insult to injury, Verizon will bill you hundreds of dollars for calls that do not go through (how do you prove that back-to-back-to-back 2 minute calls were dead on one end?) and for calls that you are forced to make because you were going to rely on low-cost/no-cost email and Messenger capability.

    I sent my teenage son to volunteer in Tanzania with a BlackBeryy "World Edition" smartphone which was to be his safe connection with home. He would have Messenger, email and telephone options if he were to fall sick or be injured. Instead of a comfort, the BlackBerry ended up being his biggest source of uncertainty and concern and my biggest logistical nightmare as I spent hours on the line with Verizon trying to make it work. At best, we achieved sporadic telephone contact that eventually totally failed. Never any data connectivity. Many, many crucial travel days went without contact so that his mother was distraught. Five weeks later, when I traveled to Tanzania to pick up my son, I presumed I would be successful with my Storm because I am very familiar with using the Options functions to discover and connect to stubborn networks. My Storm failed completely. In checking travel forums, I have found one experienced African traveler who gets full connectivity only in a university area around Dodoma.

    Here is the reality. BlackBerry in most of the developing world is not used, not sold to the populace and is unheard of. When BlackBerrys are used in more advanced countries like India or the U.A.E., they belong to corporate users, who presumably can create necessary connectivity in business districts. Verizon maps showing service in Tanzania are a fiction, and by extension, how can you trust their claims throughout Africa and the developing world? Developing world systems do not have the coverage or sophistication to consistently connect to international BlackBerry servers. No army of Verizon technicians can change that. I am disappointed that I relied on the claims of what I thought were stand-up corporations and put my son's well-being at risk. The money we have lost over two months of being forced to use the telephone, when it worked, now totals just over $1,000 for minimal, very expensive international minutes. I am hoping that readers of this thread will be forewarned and forearmed. I will be filing an official FCC complaint to get Verizon to back off its misleading, self-serving claims, but my presumption is that the FCC works for service providers and not for consumers.

    What should you do? First of all, read as many travel forums as possible to determine standard tourist/traveler practice in the country you are visiting. The answer in Tanzania is to leave your BlackBerry at home and purchase a cheap local GSM phone for $7 to $20 when you arrive. There are thousands of telephone shops/stalls throughout the country and you can choose from among several well-known service providers. Buy a SIM card (for dimes) which gives you a Tanzanian telephone number. Learn how to load the phone up with shillings/minutes and you will have, by many factors, a very reliable and cheaper (even for international calls) alternative. You can call out. Your family can call into the country and find you. Give the phone to someone who needs it as you leave the country.
    08-19-10 09:42 PM
  2. vatothe0's Avatar
    sounds like he should call global roaming support since the local carrier says the phone will work there.

    The coverage data on Calling From Tanzania
    Is not created by verizon.

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    08-19-10 10:49 PM
  3. Super_Mario's Avatar
    I can under stand how devastaing it must be, when you send your son to a "developing country" and your wife is distraught with worry but I looked on the website and below the map

    is this disclaimer...
    This map reflects a depiction of approximate wireless coverage and does not guarantee service. Many factors, including customer's equipment, terrain, proximity to buildings, foliage and weather, may impact service. Coverage depicted is based on 3rd party network information and Verizon Wireless cannot ensure its accuracy. Above maps are not to be reproduced without written consent from Verizon Wireless.
    and you stated that you "researched" your options before hand, therefore I am confused how you assumed it was going to be prestine coverage? Good luck with your out reach to the FCC, maybe they will be able to send magic cell phone fairies to smother your son in cell coverage when you send him away again to another "developing county".
    08-20-10 01:17 AM
  4. tech_head's Avatar
    I wouldn't trust that coverage.
    In a third world country the best phone to have is an Iridium phone.
    If you want connectivity that is your *ONLY* option.
    08-20-10 02:27 AM
  5. 7scarabs's Avatar
    I saw that too... whenever one is planning foreign travel, that "third party network" carrier information is always an unknown. In any event, NO network can actually GUARANTEE coverage in a specific situation, for the reasons mentioned in the disclaimer.

    For situations like the one described by the concerned parent who started this thread, it's best to have TWO communication plans in place. Spend a few bucks on an inexpensive pay-as-you-go phone for local coverage, to have a phone handy for emergencies and local communication, and have a regular system for checking in with those at home...a call every day or two from a land line, or e-mail if an internet connection is available. There's no guarantee that the locally-purchased cell phone will provide reliable communication between the USA and another country either, particularly if that country doesn't have a highly-developed network of cell phone coverage everywhere.
    08-20-10 02:35 AM
  6. 2000 Man's Avatar
    I will be filing an official FCC complaint to get Verizon to back off its misleading, self-serving claims, but my presumption is that the FCC works for service providers and not for consumers.
    I wonder if the FCC will laugh as long as I did after reading your rant? Great call on sending your kid to Tanzania though.
    08-20-10 08:09 AM
  7. FF22's Avatar
    I guess I will chime in. Now depending on how one views Italy as 3rd world or main-stream, I was in the Dolomites last summer with my 8830 World Phone. It worked splendidly MOST of the time. But there were definitely places where neither data nor phone would have a signal. So, if I had been depending on it daily, I might have been in trouble since there is no way the phone could send signals through limestone or granite mountains. And I would not want all of those pristine mountains covered with cell towers to cater to me or others.

    One could, of course, wax philosophical and ask what the original poster would have done if we moved this whole discussion back a generation, if that far. Adventures including harrowing ones, occurred in the absence of cell coverage. I guess we took more risks. I will personally relate that my mother always wanted to be called on a land line when I landed after a flight. I finally told her she would know before me if the plane crashed and I was dead and I stopped calling.

    I think the suggestion of a call-in or email every two or three days and any change of itinerary might be appropriate. Obviously, again with the proviso - "Mom, I may be out of touch for a few extra days since I'm going someplace without phone service, internet or even electricity." Obviously, it would be nice to know the last place a person was or was going if harrowing or risk were in the cards.
    Last edited by F2; 08-20-10 at 11:21 AM.
    08-20-10 11:18 AM
  8. Pocketcity's Avatar
    Good responses to-date. What's the old maxim? "If I knew then what I know now...." A dual plan, if you can think through it, is a great idea. For vatotheO and supermario28---one of the problems is that the Verizon global tech team (up to supervisor level) actually thinks that its phones will work where their map says they will. I have an image of some Verizon/BlackBerry mid-level exec flying around Africa and cutting agreements with country-specific providers (many of which are international cell phone companies), doing some high level tech connecting, putting the coverage on the website map, and moving on. The tech people kept trying to jam coverage, believing that it would work. But it is just not there. Since people all over Africa are happily using their cell phones (even at the top of Kilimanjaro), I have to think that the problem is creating a workable interface between a developing world network and the Verizon/BlackBerry networks. Not a priority for local providers. Just a "check-the-box" for BlackBerry/Verizon, when it actually would take a lot more technical work and investment than is currently employed. As for the coverage area---you are following my trail by citing that map. We were squarely in the deep red belt in Arusha, Moshi, Zanzibar and Dar Es Salaam. I listened to the sales and tech people who expected coverage to work, and I falsely assumed that the deep red areas would not be a problem. Again, those areas have excellent local service. But who knows about 3G and the interface with a foreign carrier. In the end, gradations did not matter. And kobayashi---you know we all are secret entertainers in life. Glad I could oblige. I admit to being obsessed with issues of tech that doesn't work. Rant is not accurate because it implies disorganization. Diatribe is closer. Until this fiasco of the Storm I, I have always appreciated BlackBerrys. The global aspect was the added incentive, but I am guilty of wanting the technology to be more than it is. Hopefully, my "rant" will help others see more clearly. BlackBerry/Verizon are not blameless in how they feed the myth. As for the FCC, my understanding is that they are overwhelmed with complaints about carriers (surprised?). They take a small minority of these complaints and throw them back at the carriers, asking for an explanation. That really shows who is the boss.
    08-20-10 11:36 AM