Indiana University
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ARCHIVED: What is a BlackBerry, and how does it work?

A BlackBerry is a smartphone manufactured by Research in Motion (RIM). BlackBerries can synchronize email and calendars from enterprise-class email systems, such as Indiana University's Exchange service. Most BlackBerries come with complete alphanumeric keyboards, whereas many smartphones do not.

At IU, BlackBerry service consists of the following:

  • The BlackBerry device
  • Email redirection, managed in one of two ways:

    • The BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), which works directly with the Exchange mail server.

      Note: The BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) service will be retired by January 1, 2015; see About the BES retirement. As of January 1, 2013, no new BES accounts are being created. UITS recommends you replace your BlackBerry with a device that is compatible with ActiveSync.

    • The BlackBerry Desktop Redirector, which runs on your personal computer and redirects messages as they arrive in Outlook. You can use this option with any Outlook mail setup (e.g., POP, IMAP, HTTP).

A BlackBerry receives email through the following process:

  1. The Exchange or other email account (see second option above) receives the message.
  2. The redirector looks in the email account, finds the message, and forwards it to the BlackBerry service provided by RIM.
  3. RIM's BlackBerry service sends the message to the wireless data network (e.g., AT&T, Verizon).
  4. The wireless data network provider sends the message in a wireless signal to the BlackBerry device. (You must be in a data coverage area to receive mail.)
  5. The BlackBerry receives the signal and displays the message.

A BlackBerry sends mail by the reverse of this process. The BlackBerry device sends the message to the wireless data network provider. The provider forwards it to RIM's BlackBerry service, which in turn sends it over the Internet to the redirector (either the BES server or desktop software). The redirector then sends the message to your email account, from which it is sent over the Internet to the recipient.