What does it mean for RIM to be in carrier lab testing with BlackBerry 10?

Carrier Testing
By Chris Umiastowski on 1 Nov 2012 09:16 am EDT

Research In Motion had a good day yesterday. They told the world that BlackBerry 10 devices are now in carrier testing in over 50 carrier labs. The stock rallied almost 5% on the news. In short, it pretty much assures us that the new platform will be launched on time, in Q1 of calendar 2013. In fact, as I'll discuss, it even opens the door to a possible January launch (possible, not assured by any means).

Having covered this company for over a decade, I've been around to see RIM take its hardware into carrier labs for pretty much every device launch since the beginning of the smartphone era. Given the importance of a successful BlackBerry 10 launch, I noticed plenty of people asking what carrier testing actually means. So let's tackle that question here.

To help me out, I pinged Anooj Shah, a former RIM employee who has actual experience with device testing and approval.

Carrier testing is the last major technical step before a smartphone hits the market. BlackBerry 10 hardware has to pass a lot of other tests before a carrier will bother to spend any time doing acceptance testing.

The first of these tests is functional. These tests are all done in-house and relate to the different components of the device working as expected. You don't get anywhere close to seeing Dev Alpha hardware without this being done.

Next comes inter-operability Testing (IOT).  This refers to the network-related components (cellular, WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC) and can be different for each carrier and their network vendors (e.g AT&T and their supplier ALU and Ericsson).

Then comes certification testing. These tests are defined by standards bodies such as the 3GPP for cellular tests.

RIM conducts all of these tests at a combination of internal labs, third party labs and wireless infrastructure vendor labs. Carriers won't bother moving forward with their own acceptance testing until these other milestones are achieved.

Once a device hits the carrier labs, in my experience, we're looking at 60-90 days before it can be commercially launched. So this means a January launch of BlackBerry 10 is possible, but I personally wouldn't place a bet on it just yet (Kevin on the other hand, probably would bet a car, but he does dumb stuff like that).

The next milestone we should hear about through industry sources is when RIM releases "gold candidate" software. That's a term we often hear about and talk about on CrackBerry.  Internally, RIM is still making tons of changes to the codebase of BlackBerry 10. As they compile these changes into a build, they'll eventually feel it's ready enough to submit as gold code, hence the term "gold candidate" or simply GC. When this starts to happen, we can be reasonably certain that a launch is very close.

Aside from technical acceptance, RIM still needs to settle on the commercial offering with carriers. This includes device pricing, carrier subsidies, marketing funding agreements, and of course, the service access fee that carriers pay to RIM.

Bottom line - it's exciting to see RIM get to carrier lab testing. This is critical milestone and a big step forward.

Please note: The information relayed to me by Anooj related only to industry standard practices and nothing specific to RIM. No confidential information was relayed to me in doign research for this article. I have supplemented the information I gathered with my own deep personal historical knowledge. 

Reader comments

What does it mean for RIM to be in carrier lab testing with BlackBerry 10?


So would GC be the software version the device launches with or can RIM still make changes? Well it all sounds good to me!

Lol @ kevin doing dumb stuff

GC is what RIM deems the devices will launch with.

The day they're released, an update could be pushed through.

It's all about trust.
Seeing this means that 50+ carriers trusted RIM with their BB10.
And there are many other carriers that don't bother to do a lab test because of no contract needed.

some carriers have more detailed/rigorous pre-acceptance testing than others. usually goes along with network size and complexity. it would be extremely unlikely that an operator would not perform some testing of a Ue on their network (simulated or real) prior to commercial offering.

There's also one point that people have immediately made an assumption about - that the carriers just started testing today.

Carriers could have started testing a month ago. Or they may not have started testing yet, but intend to soon. That leaves the window for launch anywhere from end of November to March.

Clear as mud!

I'm a little curious to know why the hardware inside the case has rounded corners but the exterior cases squared? Is that a dev alpha device? Or maybe an inkling to to a change in design. Just dreaming. LOL!!! By the way holy moly look at the size of that battery!!! Must be super thin.

Consensus says that the Dev Alpha B is the BB London wrapped in a shell to disguise the phone. When they ran out of the Dev Alpha A's they had to scramble to come up with a replacement quickly.

Doubtful that they "scrambled" and put something together. This is actually an intelligent design to take actual BB10 hardware and cloak it. My guess is also that Dev Alpha B isn't final London hardware (internal) but an early stage of hardware.

When I say "scrambled" I mean they had to move quickly; it's not a criticism.

I agree with your comment about the final internal London hardware. Heins very carefully commented at one point that the look and feel of the phone was finished.

I think "Pumped" is an understatement. I don't want to get my hopes of for January but this would make a perfect birthday gift...



Is it safe to say that with a BB10 devices in Carrier Testing that the processor used in the devices will NOT (or cannot) be changed prior to launch? In other words, once the hardware is sent to the carrier, subsequent changes would require that the testing be started all over again?

Yes that would be correct however don't assume that the Dev Alpha B hardware is the same hardware that carriers are receiving.

Looking forward to the launch ! 25th dec : christmas, 27th dec: birthday ,1st jan: new year....Well i won't ask anything until bb10 comes out ! this will be my gift for those 3 days together !

Blackberry by choice , bold 9900 & BB playbook

A key to BlackBerry 10's success is not only the relationship with the carriers, but with the salespeople at those carriers. Educate, put a BlackBerry 10 device in their hands at launch, and make them as enthusiastic to sell the product as they were a few years ago.

No mention of this from RIM or in the CrackBerry articles. I'm a little concerned.

Hey Birdman_38 - In reading the press release by RIM yesterday about carrier testing, there is 1 part that stuck out for me. It said "Our respective teams are now engaged on the technical and commercial preparation of the launch of BlackBerry 10 and the lab entry is an important milestone in that context."

The fact that they say they are engaged on the technical and commercial preperations, to me means they are working on training staff. I read another comment from someone else this morning that they spoke to someone at best buy, and they have in fact already received this BB10 training. So I think that is already happening, and I don't think you need to be too concerned about the relationship of the salespeople at the carriers.

I was just really happy to see the note about 'engaged...technically AND commerically'.

Just my thoughts.

I wish this could be said of every carrier.

My husband went to Futureshop to get a new phone. He mentioned to the sales guy how I am waiting for BB10 and the sales guy fed him a bunch of bullshit information that it was supposed to be out years ago and it is no different from the current BB's that are out there. Needless to say I laughed in my husbands face and set him straight of course he didn't believe me because "...that guy actually works there so they 'should' know...". I said that if I was there I would have made him look like a complete fucking idiot and set him straight on his so-called 'facts' and probably told the manager to slap some sense into his employee that is spreading lies and false information.

Oh man!!!! I would LOVE to know what store that is and who he specifically spoke to, cause I would do the same and make him look like an absolute idiot....someone who thinks they know everything, and talk to people like they do, but clearly are clueless and are simply idiots. I'd do the same and would want to talk to his manager too. It's people like this that prevent BB from growing. If the stores keep putting out mis-information, or simply lies to customers, then it'll be hard to get BB10 to sell.

Damn, if that was me, I'd put him in his place, and prove to him how much of an idiot he really is.

BB10 was originally expect almost a year ago.... so he is right.

As for the same as current BB... it will be different, and there is a lot of HYPE that it will be better, but base on past experience with RIM Smartphones and the PlayBook, not sure anyone really know if it will be much of a change.

Kind of hard to argue his "facts" without some "facts" of our own.

Noticed this comment from another poster.

"Posted by berry4life99 Thursday, Nov 01, 2012 3 hrs ago I talked to a guy at Best Buy Mobile who told me they did training for BB10. He seemed excited about selling them."

So it is safe to say reps are learning about bb10!!!

BB 10...Boldly taking over!

How can one receive training on a product in alpha? If anything, it's likely a sheet of key points. I was referring to comprehensive training provided by RIM that one can sink their teeth into.

Why train 90 days before launch? It doesn't make any sense and it would just be time wasted. Everyone that would get trained would have have to do it all over again closer to launch so it's fresh in their minds.

I was happy to see that my local news reported on RIM taking BB10 to carrier testing and that the new devices should be out early next year.

Typically they just like to talk about Apple, and usually report highly negative of BB10, but nothing negative was said.

That spoke volumes to me!

I know someone (close) who work for Verizon in their retail stores. When they get BB10 training, I'll know. Normally this is about 2 weeks or so before launch when they do this sort of training. (That was the case with WP8 and iJobs5)

I'm so pumped for this. They should just do a prelaunch on Rogers or some other canadian network since you know they've been testing them here on the network since the beginning and you know it'll work. Sucks we have to wait till January like the rest :)

"it even opens the door to a possible January launch (possible, not assured by any means)."

It's possible but not very likely - not for technical reasons but because January is a financial wasteland in the consumer/mobile sectors in most western nations (I'll not comment on emerging markets) - January is the very last month you'd want to launch a new mobile.

There seems to be a clear change of perspective towards RIM.

In reading other blogs and comments, including MSM like the Financial Post, the attitude has become far more positive.

As mentioned, even the stock is beginning to rise and stabilize.

An encouraging change of attitude and a great start to building excitement as we approach the launch of BB10.

Exciting times indeed!

The share price has been rising for a while. The marketing is noticing that Apple hasn't had anything new post-Jobs, that the jury is very out on Windows Phone 8, and that the only people really doing well with Android are Samsung.
It is worth taking a punt on BB 10 being very good

The share price has been rising for a while. The market is noticing that Apple hasn't had anything new post-Jobs, that the jury is very out on Windows Phone 8, and that the only people really doing well with Android are Samsung.
It is worth taking a punt on BB 10 being very good

New software!!! New Hardware!!!New year!!! Launch it on the 1st of January. Make it happen Blackberry.

Stocks risings usually mean a swell in confidence amongst the tech world. Seems to me that RIM is making a B-Line to obtain the top spot once again.

Living Bold-ly!

It means most carriers may have the first units available in a reasonable amount of time and it means ATT will have them ready about 1 Year after everyone else.

So, where does FCC approval fall in this process. I know it's a U.S. thing, but that's usually one of the last things we hear about right before carriers make their announcements.

If one carrier prices it too high even on a three year term (like they do with other platforms and phones), another carrier will likely have a better deal.

Advice: Save up in advance so you'll HAVE that money to spend.

Sold My Iphones bought a 9860 and two Playbooks for the Wife and I ( Kids took them ) sold the 9860 after finding a sweet deal on a new 9900 and playbook for $300 loving it , actually surprised myself after realizing I was a Apple fan-boy and had my head in the icloud . Long live Blackberry now I know what I was missing and after having a iOS device for 5 years without any led forgot that my phone was a phone first and toy second - but man is it hard to wait for a new L Series!

If I were to sum up Blackberry vs Apple difference what i said above hold more true to the very core of why I enjoy my 9900 so much. Blackberry = Great Phone first Toy second . Apple good all round everything toy.

Agree with you 100%. Apple products are great if their devices suit your personal needs. We have several products in my family. BB's are however my personal choice and preference. I love my BB for the very function it was designed for - communications tool first and foremost. Nothing beats it in that regard.

I've always said that the iphone seems to be an "App carrier". All it does is carries apps. I find that the BB os, allows you much more functionality within the OS itself, not only the apps that it carries. And now when I look at BB10....the OS itself looks like it'll be fun to use, not just the apps that you can get with it. I'm looking for a fun and enjoyable experience with the OS, not the apps. The iphone has apps, with a very basic and limited OS. Now just imagine....a device with a fun and exciting OS, with all the same apps as the iphone. Damn, I can't wait!!!

I can't wait either--got an old (2010, oh my!) Android phone that can't get past 2.3, TouchWiz launcher messes up all the time, I have to keep killing it and it randomly rearranges what apps I have on my taskbar or home screen when it does. A stable OS without an extra 'skin' would be nice; a 'fun' OS would be nice.

Now, I do like my iPad2 for apps, but not much for web or e-mail, when half of where I go or want to do needs to be able to view flash or .wmv content. I don't want to debate what the web should or should not be coded in as to standards -- I just want what's out there to work on the browser/device I'm using! My PlayBook does it all quite admirably so far. I have the same hopes and expectations for BB10.

Here's to RIM's fortunes (and ours) continuing to rise!

"... (Kevin on the other hand, probably would bet a car, but he does dumb stuff like that)"



The question now is, has it fail at any of the carriers???


RIM, if you read... Send BB London i would be more than happy to test it at my company e2e mobile lab: 2G, 3G, LTE with all the goodies like PCRF, Service Awareness, etc :-)

I got an email from RIM today saying, "It's time to upgrade to our next generation devices." It was actually just advertising for BB7. I still have BB6 but why will I waste my upgrade on a BB7 when BB10 is almost out?

I got an official email from RIM themselves with the heading: "BlackBerry 10: Coming Soon!"

Then the message below:

"BlackBerry 10 is coming soon.
This is an exciting time for BlackBerry®. BlackBerry® 10 is almost here and we want you to be one of the first to get official news. Stay tuned as more details are released. In the meantime, check out BlackBerry.com for more info and get the latest buzz on Facebook and Twitter."

Yes; straight from RIM! I think that it's really coming folks. To those who've been saying that it's nothing but vaporware: Suck it!

I am curious if RIM upon it's BB10 launch, will undercut the competition to flood the market, like they did with the PlayBook? I have actually stood by them, and HELD OUT renewing my contract until BB10's are released. I hope I get a great deal on a new phone, as in 0.00 on a 3 year contract, instead of something crazy like a Galaxy s3 for like 149.99 even on a 3 year.

It means Blackberry is back in the game and BB10 is coming. Bring it.
I’d rather be a Black Sheep than an iSheep any day.

Being one step closer to actually being able to get the new BB10 device is very exciting...

Though, there is one fact which makes me a bit worried - so far most of the leaks have shown the touch only device. If RIM has begun testing the devices with carriers, it should mean that the qwerty device must also be equally ready, right? Then why is it not leaked together with the touch only device (I remember only one image of qwerty device and it was more of a rendering than a picture of an actual device)?

Maybe that would be a big surprise ! Showing the L series , hey guys this is the new full touch L serie , and this is the new N series ! That would be like What the hellll !
Wishful thinking i guess :) but wouldn't that be awesome ?

Blackberry by choice , bold 9900 & BB playbook

Chris, Peter Misek at Jefferies says it is impossible to have BB10 out by third quarter according to Fool.Com article. Here is his quote "However, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek is far from impressed with what he referred to as RIM's "lab trials," which could take upwards or three to six months to complete." Is he a credible analyst? Thanks!

I think if a carrier was told that three to six months was needed for phone testing, they would get new lab staff. Mind you, it was all a lot simpler when everything on a phone was a physical button.