Communication with the BlackBerry PlayBook - dummies

Communication with the BlackBerry PlayBook

By Corey Sandler

The BlackBerry PlayBook is all about communication; it really doesn’t serve much purpose without a link of some sort. The basic mode of communication for the PlayBook, in many situations, is a WiFi connection to a hotspot, and the Bridge is one of the keys to using your PlayBook in conjunction with a BlackBerry smartphone.

WiFi connection for your Blackberry PlayBook

You WiFi connection may be a router in your home or office that is under your control or supervision, or it may be to a public hotspot at a hotel, airport, Internet café, or other location. On this page, you can turn off the WiFi transceiver. After that you can select a network. The pull-down menu offers choices:

  • Available Networks. A listing of all signals the PlayBook detects.

  • Open Networks. Unsecured networks that you can use without a password or security key.

  • Saved Networks. Networks you’ve used before that you want to be able to quickly reconnect to.


Your BlackBerry PlayBook will import information about WiFi networks saved on your BlackBerry smartphone when you connect the two devices using BlackBerry Bridge.

Bluetooth communication with your Blackberry PlayBook

BlueTooth is a short-range data network between various electronics (for example, between your PlayBook and your smartphone, or between your PlayBook and a wireless headset or other peripheral). Bluetooth communication is essential for the BlackBerry Bridge function, a system that permits you to use your tablet to access e-mail, calendar items, and other data on your phone.

Believe it or not, not every technological advancement in computing and communications is Made in America. They’re not even all Made in China or Taiwan. The Bluetooth wireless standard was put forth by Ericsson in Sweden as a means for devices to communicate with each other locally.

A technician and amateur historian dubbed the standard in honor of Harald Bluetooth, a Scandinavian king who brought together the two warring communities of Denmark and Norway in the tenth century. Bluetooth operates in the same 2.4 GHz band used by WiFi radio but at a much lower power level.

Blackberry Bridge for your PlayBook

Communication via the Blackberry Bridge takes place using BlueTooth. The control page allows you to connect quickly to a phone you’ve already configured, or to set up a new connection. The BlackBerry PlayBook comes with BlackBerry Bridge software as part of its operating system; you have to download and install the other half of the link on your BlackBerry smartphone.


Internet tethering and your Blackberry PlayBook

The basic model of the BlackBerry PlayBook also allows for an alternate means of communication with the web. Internet tethering is a sophisticated system that uses a Bluetooth radio link to connect your PlayBook to a BlackBerry smartphone, and then to use that smartphone as your connection to the web. When you do this, you will be using the cellular data link of your phone.


You’re prompted to select a wireless service profile to connect to the Internet using tethering. Many major cellular service providers are listed, but you can also tap Add Profile to enter connection details.

A few important words of caution here:

  • The cellular data link may be considerably slower than a WiFi connection.

  • Be sure you understand the costs associated with using your BlackBerry smartphone, especially if you’re roaming internationally or otherwise away from your home location.

  • Some cellular providers may block tethering or limit the amount of data that can be exchanged using this method.

If you intend to use Internet tethering, take the time to call your cellular provider and discuss all of the associated charges for data plans as well as any restrictions.

Cellular communication with your Blackberry PlayBook

Research in Motion sells a number of BlackBerry PlayBook models that add a cellular transceiver in the tablet. Cell providers usually sell these units, and usually with a data plan. Various models use 3G, 4G, and other gee-whiz technologies. As a user, you’re limited to the technologies used by the cellular provider you choose.

If the provider offers 4G service, the version of the PlayBook they will sell will have that facility. Cellular providers will likely add their own control or reporting panel so you can monitor your connection.

As with Internet tethering, be sure you understand the costs associated with data plans, especially if you’re roaming internationally.