Leave it to Matt W. to have already touched on this once already. As he points out back in 2006, it seems that RIM, mobile carriers and resellers really need to get their information straight. And as luck would have it. I myself, had a taste of this type of things with DSLExtreme’s Exchange hosting service and AT&T’s BlackBerry data plans. This will not likely shock you, but it is helpful to know as it will save you the time I had wasted. Check this out.

First I setup a BlackBerry data plan with AT&T. An obvious move and a needed one as well. From there, I contact DSLExtreme. The first guy I spoke to on the phone, really went out of his way to get my existing Exchange account shifted into a BlackBerry ready setup. So that was great. Unfortunately, the options he was reading off to me do not exist on my BlackBerry device. An options icon? Not with my 8820 there is not. Add to this the complete lack of understanding about a need for an Activation Server Address with my 8820 as well. This alone, had me wasting about 15 minutes of my day, but once I explained that I could do all of this from BlackBerry Setup, the Setup Wizard and then Email Setup, we were in business.

Here is what I needed from my administrator (DSLExtreme in this case):

Email address for the account:

Password (temp one for the server, not for login):

Activation Server Addy:

That was all I needed. Once I had it, I ran through the activation process – it failed. And it failed and failed and failed. For the life of me, I could not figure out the problem! DSLExtreme had done everything on their end to help. Even went so far as to test the settings on two other BB’s themselves to make sure the settings worked – everything was fine. After more hours of resetting the phone than I like to admit, I finally broke down and called AT&T. Wow, are these people clueless.

After explaining what the problem was (used the words MS Exchange at least five times) the AT&T rep asked me if I needed help setting up a phone’s profile. Are they serious? Finally after a few cave drawings and a lot of grunting, I think we had one of their brain pistons fire off “a clue” and they explained that I had been given basic BlackBerry data service, not Enterprise service. I about lost it at this point. See, you have to understand that when I first got the phone, I spent ten minutes explaining that I was using this to connect to an Exchange server and I needed to do Enterprise activation.

At any rate, I finally had my BlackBerry Enterprise service activated and contacted DSLExtreme again, this time via their live chat window. Ended up with someone a little more informed this time around and was told that they were restamping my account. Wait 10 minutes without the SIM card or battery in the phone. Then another 10 with the phone put back together (likely to wait for their servers at this point). Then try again. Results? Complete success.

Some closing thoughts on my BB experience thus far.

I love the phone, light years better than anything Windows Mobile has shown me. Yet when it comes to syncing up an Exchange server with AT&T, all it takes is a owa URL, the right password and a $20 data plan.

With the BlackBerry, it takes roughly four people to get things going. Two for getting it wrong, two more to get it right. A $45 data plan that lacks text messaging. Personally, that sort of bummed me out.

All of that said, I love everything else about it and could not possibly go back to anything else. The battery life is insanely long lasting, the UI is easy to get used to and best of all – I am not heading into the phone setting every two hours to kill of still running programs like on my old Windows Mobile Pocket PC. The BlackBerry navigation is also very smooth, so I am loving that as well. Oh, perhaps the most important thing of all. This is the clearest phone I have ever used. The sound quality is awesome, seriously happy with it.