Verizon Wireless, a long time heavyweight in wireless communications, has been disabling the GPS feature on the BlackBerry 8830 handsets it sells, after advertising the feature as one of the device’s selling points. In fact the Blackberry 8830 comes equipped with a fully functional gps locator and tracking system but Verizon Wireless their customers to use VZNavigator service, which makes them a cool Ten Bucks a month for each user.
Every BlackBerry 8830 Smartphone was made with an autonomous GPS receiver. Meaning it is able to calculate its location relying solely on GPS satellites, with no input from cellular towers at all. In theory a BlackBerry8830 user could stroll around the planet Earth, receive a complete GPS system at no extra charge and not even sign up for Verizon service, at least that’s how the manufacture intended it to be.
Hey now! Verizon is not giving any “freebies” to its customers! Being the obedient dollar extracting corporation they are, Verizon has killed the GPS at its roots, by shutting down the software on each Blackberry 8830, leaving their customers in a sea of darkness and confusion, inextricably lost without directions.
Blackberry has remained a fly on the wall regarding this issue. Although Blackberry and Verizon are completely separate companies, they exist in a symbiotic data/service relationship. So in order to appease its master, Blackberry RIM has been tight lipped about the problem, hoping it doesn’t get out to the public. However, BlackBerry is advising its customers to contact Verizon and enable the GPS function on their handsets. No word if anyone has been successful as of yet.
Evidently the communications Juggernaut believes that denying the basic rights to enjoy the full range of features on handsets is part of a sound business model. This is evident by the growing list of complaints against Verizon Wireless, some of which have matured into class action lawsuits. In January of 2007 Verizon blocked most features of their Bluetooth enabled phone, the V710. The issuers of the lawsuit were claiming the company falsely advertised full Bluetooth support, implying full support for these other profiles. Only to discover computer connections were disabled by the provider because Verizon did not want their customers using 3rd party (meaning potentially free) services for ringtones, pictures or games. After all, Why would Verizon remove their customers digital dog collar when the same services were offered through them for an inflated charge. The issue was finally settled when Verizon offered a $25 credit to its customers or an option to cancel their subscriptions at no additional charge.
Verizon also crippled Bluetooth on their Palm Treo 700w after discovering this function could be used as a modem for a laptop, preventing the phone be used as a modem because once again, Verizon makes no money if their users do this. Verizon really likes to break the functionality of phones it sells. Verizon is also fresh off an uproar for removing MP3 playback functionality from some of its other handsets. The company disabled the mp3 function on its advertised “Mp3 phones” via a firmware upgrade after discovering customers could put their own mp3’s on the phone.
All this sidestepping and penny pinching has left many users bitter and disgruntled. Verizon must cease pulling the plug on basic features and live up to a higher standard. Can you hear me now? Doubtful.