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Summary:

I have written a few times about the situation with the integrated GPS and the Verizon BlackBerry 8830.  Originally Verizon released the 8830 with the GPS totally disabled and a brouhaha ensued, naturally.  Then Verizon stated to me that in November the GPS would be enabled […]

No_verizonI have written a few times about the situation with the integrated GPS and the Verizon BlackBerry 8830.  Originally Verizon released the 8830 with the GPS totally disabled and a brouhaha ensued, naturally.  Then Verizon stated to me that in November the GPS would be enabled with a firmware upgrade and would work with "some" third party applications and not just their own VZ Navigator service which costs $10 per month.  Last week Verizon quietly released a firmware upgrade for the 8830 which claimed to enable the GPS for the VZ Navigator system.  I installed the upgrade along with the VZ Navigator application and had the service activated.

The service still wouldn’t work and it wasn’t until yesterday that I had time to contact Verizon to make sure the  VZ Navigator service was provisioned for my phone.  I spent a half hour on the phone with a very nice tech support rep, Christine, and I am happy to report that the VZ Navigator service is now working fine on the 8830 and as near as I can tell is using the integrated GPS just fine.  Some folks have told me that they think the VZ Navigator service is using cell towers to triangulate their position instead of the GPS but I believe mine is using the GPS OK.  What we ended up doing was removing the VZ Navigator app I had installed last week and redownloading and installing it.  Apparently they had a problem with the older version and it was fixed in the one currently available.  This would be a happy ending except for the testing I have done with third party apps that use a GPS.

The first application I tested seriously after making sure the GPS was working was the TeleNav service.  I had activated it last week to test it and last night I tried diligently to get it to work.  I had no success as I get an error as soon as the program tries to access the GPS that indicates it is a "weak signal".  According to the TeleNav support web site this usually means that the program cannot connect to the GPS.  Nothing I did could get this to work which probably means that the Verizon update still has the GPS disabled for use with TeleNav.  Maybe other programs would be able to use it.

The next application I tested, and the one I really wanted to get working since it’s preinstalled on the 8830 and is free, is the BlackBerry Maps program.  It’s a full-feature navigation package that is installed as part of the RIM BlackBerry system and if any program should be able to work with the integrated GPS it would be BlackBerry’s own program.  Nope.  The Maps program still does not provide using the GPS as an option even after the Verizon upgrade which means that Verizon did not enable the Maps program to work on their network.  What a major bummer!

I then tried to get Google Maps to work with the GPS but I get the same "weak signal" error message when it tries to access the GPS.  The new Google Maps for Mobiles that uses tower triangulation for location is a great thing and will work fine on the 8830 but it’s a shame that the program cannot use a GPS that is sitting right in the phone.  This sucks quite frankly and I am batting 0 for 3 in the third party app department after the upgrade.  I haven’t found a single program that will work so it appears to me that the Verizon firmware upgrade to enable the GPS only enables it for their own VZ Navigator service.  This is exactly opposite what I was told by Verizon and I am extremely disappointed to find myself in this situation.  I will try to get clarification from Verizon as to which third party apps the 8830 can use with the GPS.

  1. I know you’re pain. I’m suffering the same thing on my Pearl and my 8830.

    I also wanted to say that I appreciated your article about an outage last night because at the exact same time I had one too for about two hours, I think it might of been something with VZW BIS in my case, but luckily it resolved spontaneously. No matter if it was just me, VZW, gmail, my exchange server, what have you – I appreciate your articles even when they’re just a call for feedback.

    Keep up the great work guys!

    PS…how do I get to be on the list for LTE tests? I want that job!

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  2. Thanks for the update James. I guess that open apps commitment will start very LATE next year, sigh…

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  3. I’ll bet VZ Navigator on your phone is using triangulation.
    I have a non-GPS phone and use VZ Navigator, which is USUALLY pretty good, but falls down in 2 circumstances:
    1) Areas with poor or no cell coverage.
    2) Walking in a city — resolution can be poor and positional data erratic.
    I am getting ready to bolt from Verizon after being a “loyal” (and lucrative) customer for the past 4 years because of their restrictive policies.

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  4. Note from the former big-telco guy:

    Whether it is wireless, broadband, or wireless broadband, the telcos do NOT want to be a big fat dumb pipe.

    It should be no surprise that their offering works and others do not.

    Tsk-tsk!
    ;)

    Woadan

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  5. Verizon is disabling the existing software and hardware features of the phone to try to get you to pay them a monthly fee for using hardware you already paid for and a public satellite signal provided free by the government?

    Color me unsurprised.

    They’ve been treating their customers like crap for years and will no doubt continue.

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  6. John Crescent Friday, December 7, 2007

    Someone should dig up the telecom legislation to see if Verizon actually OWNS YOUR PHONE. The auto manufacturers once claimed they owned the OBD-II data codes, but that was challenged by consumer groups and the consumers won. Which is why you can now buy OBD-II code readers and let Pepboys do onboard diagnostics without visiting your $tealer.

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  7. Of course VZ Navigator uses cell tower triangulation, it is not, and never has been designed for use with fully autonomous GPS therefore why would it suddenly use the gps on the 8830…..It doesn’t, read verizons info on it @ http://vznavigator.vzw.com/about.html and you will see that it calls it ASSISTED GPS, which means that it uses cell towers and NOT your gps reciever!

    Sorry if i sound annoyed but get your facts straight before you start posting things like this on the net and misinforming people. Verizon is still crippling the 8830, because it doesn’t need to enable it for vz nav to work……

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  8. Jason, this quote from the vznavigator link you posted:

    VZ Navigator is a GPS-enabled application that transforms your Verizon Wireless phone into a powerful navigation device. With VZ Navigator, you get visual and audible directions to a destination, you can locate businesses and other places in an area, get a map of a location, bookmark favorites and recent searches, and even share locations with others.

    This fits with what I have been told by Verizon, it uses the GPS which is much more accurate than cell triangulation. Chill out dude.

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  9. In response to Jason Purvis.
    Jason, your response is disturbing (unless you are an employee of VerizonWirelss, in which case they would be right on par with the corporation’s behavior in this matter). Please do not defend the actions of this deceitful corporation. Verizon wireless DISABLED the GPS in software. It is still disabled. They lie when they claim the 8830 early advertising of GPS for the 8830 was only for e911 services. If the e911 limitation were true, why do the other phones in the advert not advertise GPS as well?
    3rd party (AKA Free) GPS applications are disabled in software. This shows up as as “GPS signal too weak”. This gives users false hope, that all you need to do is get a better signal.
    We all paid for an “unlimited” data plan, and this should include blackberry and or Google map data. VerizonWireless want us to pay another $15 dollars a month to enable VZNavigator to replace a feature included in our phones and using satellites paid for by US taxpayers. VZNavigator will not work when outside the Verizon network, so no GPS in Europe.
    Their solution is poor, and costs users extra money. Please do not defend the actions of VErizonWireless, the company’s actions are shameful, dishonest, and insulting to their customers.

    I am canceling all business with Verizon and VerizonWireless. I am starting with two landlines at $50 a month. My datacard is next.
    I have been a VZW customer since my first analog cell phone, but their actions disabling GPs on the 8830 and lying about it crossed my line.

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  10. Vishwas Bhisey Sunday, December 30, 2007

    Unfortunately, Verizon in the US is not the only operator to resort to this sort of deceit. Blackberry in India is provided by Reliance Mobile, and they too disable the GPS. And out here, they just don’t give a damn. They don’t even have an alternate paid service. It is ‘to be launched at a later date’.

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