Set Up WiFi or Cell Connection for Your BlackBerry PlayBook

Although the BlackBerry PlayBook isn’t alive, it does have certain needs that must be dealt with before it can do that thing that it does so well. You can mostly just sit back and respond to questions as they appear; the PlayBook will look around for an active WiFi network (or with cellular data versions, an active cell tower).

  1. Turn the WiFi Connectivity option to On.

  2. Choose Open Networks from the Select a Network menu.

You need an active WiFi connection to the Internet to set up the basic PlayBook model. Versions of the tablet that use a cellular data link can most likely do this using the data stream.

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If you have the BlackBerry PlayBook with a cellular radio and subscription, your cellular provider will most likely preconfigure the device or customize the startup screens to meet its particular needs.

WiFi systems come in two basic types:

  • An unsecured system is wide open, just waiting for any passersby to latch on to its radio waves and go surfing. You may find unsecured WiFi at libraries and cafés; some individual users don’t bother to lock their front door or their WiFi network.

    An unsecured WiFi network may or may not be a bad thing for the owner; as long as any individual computers in the home or office don’t allow file sharing — access to the contents of hard drives — then all that’s likely to happen is free hitchhiking by friends and strangers.

  • A secured WiFi network, on the other hand, requires that any would-be user get permission — usually in the form of a username and password — in order to get on the system. Some public systems may freely hand out the passwords (sometimes called keys), while other places restrict use: buy a coffee and get 15 minutes of time on the Internet.

In the simplest of systems, all you see is a sign-in screen that asks for a username and password. On more complex and managed systems, you may have to enter additional details, such as departmental or billing codes. One of the great appeals of the BlackBerry for system managers of large enterprises is the ability to add customized layers of security.

The BlackBerry PlayBook supports all three of the most commonly used systems for securing access to a WiFi service:

  • WEP. Wired Equivalent Privacy is an older security algorithm that has been mostly superseded by WiFi Protected Access.

  • WPA Personal. WiFi Protected Access adds some levels of security to protect against things like the capture and alteration of data by an outside attacker.

  • WPA2 Personal. WiFi Protected Access II, also known as WPA2, is the most secure of the three systems.

As a user, you don’t get to choose which system to use. That determination is made by the WiFi system owner; your assignment — mostly handled automatically by the operating system of the BlackBerry PlayBook — is to configure the tablet properly and to enter a valid password.

If you’ve already established a WiFi connection, the PlayBook will automatically reconnect if it detects that same service. If the PlayBook finds more than one familiar network, it offers you a choice.

When a new wireless network is detected, the tablet will display a standard login screen (user name and password) if the system is set up that way. Some systems may have non-standard login requirements; in that situation, choose Connect Manually and fill in the fields you see.

Once connected to a WiFi system, swipe on the screen to continue the set-up process.

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