For a good one year, ever since the facebook controversy regarding the burning of the Quran hit Pakistan, internet browsing has been significantly restricted on Blackberry devices under the orders of the Lahore High Court and subsequently conveyed to all telco’s via Pakistan Telecommunication Authority. Other cell phone users enjoy unrestricted access to most websites since they rely on simple GPRS connections which can be easily monitored and controlled but Blackberry users face the brunt of the impact of these restrictions since their devices are connected online via a secure tunnel connection to Singapore easily bypassing any government enforced censorship.
My personal position is that any blasphemous / illegal (including porn) content should not be viewed, those individual who seek such content do so on their own free will and they alone are responsible and will be answerable to Allah. Condemning an entire population for something they have no interest in, is unfortunate, and such blanket censorships only become a source of inconvenience.
Most of Pakistani Blackberry users subscribe to Blackberry Internet Services (BIS) which is the simplest form of blackberry service the services and tools are controlled to a great extent by the Telco themselves, one way to bypass all the censorship hoopla is to subscribe to Blackberry Enterprise Server,
How to Setup Blackberry Enterprise Server
The most ideal situation would be to install a BES Express [free for one Blackberry] on your own Microsoft Server connected to the internet, unfortunately not everyone has such a high-end server online and neither the technical know-how to do this seamlessly, so the next best option is to subscribe to a Hosted BES service from an online host.
Quite a number of hosts are available and after a decent research weighing in a price comparison, features and stability I personally settled for Hosted Exchange Services with Blackberry from GoDaddy. GoDaddy offers BES Hosted service for a low price $9.98 per month (no setup charges) if you also choose follow my lead then you make sure that you subscribe to the $6.99 per month hosted exchange package and also $2.99 for the blackberry add-on per user.
Call your telco’s helpline and enable BES
Once you have subscribed with you will need to create a Hosted Exchange email account, and have it configured to your liking, you then need to dial your local Telco’s Blackberry support line and request to be moved from BIS [Rs 1,000/month] to their BES service, they generally have two options
- BES [Rs.1,500/month] enables you to link up with only one core account
- BES PLUS [Rs.1,650/month] enables 10 personal accounts like gmail, yahoo & hotmail.
I personally chose BES Plus. The update takes at maximum 2 hours [it took me three calls and a total of 8 hours to have it up and running courtesy Mobilink]
Activating the Enterprise Server on your Blackberry
Once your BES is enabled by your telco, you need to hard reset your blackberry [pull out the battery] restart the device. In your hosted account control panel locate how to add devices and link your email address to your Blackberry PIN number. Push the activation button which will send you an email.
Proceed to OPTIONS > ADVANCED OPTIONS > ENTERPRISE ACTIVATION and enter your GoDaddy’s email address and password. It may take a few minutes for things to synchronize, but once you are done, you now have a slightly modified blackberry, a secure device directly connected via a secure tunnel to your BES server in the US, bypassing filters enforced by your telco and PTA. You can now download, install and run the Facebook app, Twitter app amongst a wider variety of tools that were previously limited by the governing authority
Bottom line, this effort will set you back by about Rs. 1,400 additional each month, for most it may be a wasted effort, for a few it may be considered an unholy move, but for a small fraction of people like me, it is an effort to vehemently say no to blanket censorship, majority of internet users in Pakistan use internet technology for peaceful purposes, limiting their utilization only hinders our own people, majority of us have never desired to seek or will ever search for any form of illegal / blasphemous content, we as adults are educated enough to be responsible for our own actions