Giffgaff launches support for BlackBerry devices with £3/month add-on

February 1st, 2012

Giffgaff have launched full support for BlackBerry devices this month. Access to BBM, BlackBerry web browsing and BlackBerry e-mail costs £3/month on top of your normal Goodybag package.

O2’s low cost Pay As You Go network, Giffgaff, has today launched full support for BlackBerry devices and BBM services. Due to the way that BlackBerry devices (including the BlackBerry Bold, BlackBerry Curve and BlackBerry Torch) are designed, BlackBerry owners must have a subscription to the “BlackBerry Internet Service” (BIS) as well as a calling plan from their mobile operator in order to use the full functionality of the device. Giffgaff’s £3/month add-on provides access to the “BlackBerry Internet Service” and hence adds full support for BlackBerry features such as BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), web browsing and e-mail on Giffgaff.

How much does it cost to use my BlackBerry on Giffgaff?

In order to use the full functionality of your BlackBerry on Giffgaff, you’ll need to have one of the five Giffgaff Goodybags plus a £3/month BlackBerry add-on. Giffgaff currently offers a choice of 5 standard goodybags. With the addition of the £3/month BlackBerry add-on, the tariffs available to BlackBerry owners on Giffgaff are as follows:

Monthly Cost Minutes Texts Internet
£8/month 10p/min Unlimited 20p/day Get Deal »
£13/month 250 Unlimited 1GB Get Deal »
£15/month 250 Unlimited Unlimited Get Deal »
£18/month 400 Unlimited Unlimited Get Deal »
£23/month 800 Unlimited Unlimited Get Deal »
£28/month 1,500 Unlimited Unlimited Get Deal »

If you exceeded your inclusive airtime allowance, you’ll pay Giffgaff’s standard Pay As You Go rates of 10p/minute and 6p per text message. Calls and texts to other Giffgaff members are free regardless of whether you’ve purchased a Goodybag. To qualify for free Giffgaff-to-Giffgaff calls and texts, you’ll need to have topped up in the last 3 months.

What is the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS)?

The “Blackberry Internet Service” (BIS) is run by Research In Motion (the manufacturer of the BlackBerry). BIS provides the following functionality to BlackBerry devices:

  • BlackBerry Messenger (BBM)
  • internet access (web browsing)
  • e-mail service (including push e-mail)
  • converts e-mail attachments into a format which can be read by the Blackberry device
  • push alerts (e.g. from installed applications)
  • compresses all data before it is delivered to your phone. This makes your data allowance last longer but isn’t applicable to Giffgaff as the Goodybag tariffs all include “unlimited data”.

Without a subscription to the “Blackberry Internet Service” such as is provided by Giffgaff’s new add-on, you cannot use this functionality on your phone.

BlackBerry devices are unique in routing all of their internet traffic through a single service (BIS). Almost all other smartphones including the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone devices are able to connect to the internet directly through your mobile operator. The advantage of this approach is that tariffs tend to be cheaper, there is greater choice amongst mobile networks and there isn’t a single point of failure (BlackBerry devices across the UK experienced a prolonged outage in October due to a failure at BIS).

I’m a Giffgaff customer. How do I purchase the BlackBerry add-on?

When topping up at the Giffgaff website, there is an additional option to buy a BlackBerry add-on towards the bottom of the page. You must order this at the same time as you order your normal Goodybag: the Goodybag and the add-on must start at the same time. If you do not select the BlackBerry add-on, you will lose access to BlackBerry services.

Can I use a BlackBerry on Giffgaff without the BlackBerry add-on?

Yes, but only for calling and texting. Calls and texts are not routed through BIS so will work without the BlackBerry add-on.

It is possible to download alternative applications to your BlackBerry which will work without the BlackBerry add-on: for example the Opera web browser connects to the internet without the BIS service. You’ll need to set the correct APN settings on your BlackBerry to use these applications.

Can I use my BlackBerry abroad on Giffgaff?

Yes – BlackBerry data roaming will be free but limited to 10MB/day. See the Giffgaff pricing page for details of calling and texting costs whilst abroad.

How does the cost of using a BlackBerry on Giffgaff compare to using it on a Pay Monthly contract?

If you are using your Giffgaff SIM card in a BlackBerry device you already own, there are some significant savings to be had. For example, O2 charge £16.50/month for 300 minutes, unlimited texts, 500MB internet and BlackBerry services. Meanwhile, £13/month would buy 250 minutes, unlimited texts, unlimited internet and BlackBerry services on Giffgaff. This is a saving of £3.50/month or £42 per year.

If you are purchasing a new BlackBerry device, the total cost of ownership on Giffgaff and Pay Monthly is fairly similar, once we take the cost of the handset into account. We have a side-by-side price comparison for the BlackBerry Bold 9900.

What is coverage like on Giffgaff?

Giffgaff uses the O2 network as a “virtual network operator” – the coverage you’ll receive on giffgaff is identical to the coverage you’ll receive on O2. Hence, you can check Giffgaff coverage in your area by using the O2 coverage checker.

I’m moving my BlackBerry to Giffgaff. Can I keep my existing phone number?

Yes. You’ll need to ask your existing network for a PAC code and then to provide this to giffgaff. The entire process of transferring your phone number should take no more than 24 hours. Our PAC Code Finder tool provides a step-by-step guide to transferring your mobile number to giffgaff.

Where can I get a free Giffgaff SIM card?

You can order a free SIM card from the giffgaff website. This SIM card will work in all phones (BlackBerry or otherwise) as Giffgaff do not make any distinction between BlackBerry and non-BlackBerry SIM cards. To make use of BlackBerry features, you will need to purchase a BlackBerry add-on when activating your Goodybag.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 6 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. Kristian said:

    Hi there,

    I am under the 8 pounds a month package which includes the 5 pounds goodie bag and bb add on. I just wanted to confirm if there are additional charges for uses such as facebook, etc. and applications (such as radio) that require internet service, e.g.?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Kristian,

      As far as I'm aware the £5/month Goodybag does not include internet – you'll need to pay 20p/day for this.

      Hope this helps,


  2. jordan said:

    i bought the bb add on but nothing happend i cant conect to browser either or use bbm what can i do?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Jordan,

      Try the giffgaff forums – they should hopefully be able to answer your question!

      Many thanks,


  3. alice said:

    so how do i purchease the bolton is there a number i could rring? and when can i buybthe bolton

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Alice,

      The BlackBerry add-on hasn't launched yet as far as I'm aware, though you'll buy it through the giffgaff website in the same way you purchase a normal giffgaff Goodybag.


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