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How to Manage Wi-Fi Access on a BlackBerry

written by: Tommy Carlton•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 7/5/2011

If you have certain BlackBerry models, your device can connect to a Wi-Fi network in addition to your cellular network, allowing for higher data speeds, and in some cases, adding simultaneous voice and data as well. Learn how to connect to Wi-Fi networks, manage network priorities, and more.

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    Why Connect a BlackBerry to Wi-Fi?

    If you have a BlackBerry device, it is capable of many things, most of which require data access. If you have a data plan, you can use data directly from the cellular networks, but even current 3G networks are not nearly as fast as the average home broadband connection or public Wi-Fi access spot.

    If you don't have a data plan, you may still wish to use your device with data, but don't want to pay your carrier extra fees. Wi-Fi is the solution to this problem. Many models of the BlackBerry, including certain Pearl and Curve devices, as well as the Bold, are capable of connecting to Wi-Fi networks.

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    How to Connect to a New Wi-Fi Network

    On your main BlackBerry screen, there should be an icon that resembles an antenna, with signal lines radiating from the top of it. On older models, and current-generation BlackBerries without Wi-Fi, this symbol simply toggled your cellular radio on and off. However, it now opens the "Manage Connections" screen, allowing you to add or edit Wi-Fi connections as well as cellular or Bluetooth connections. Clicking this icon will bring up a list of options, one of which should be "WiFi Options." Clicking this will allow you to view the current Wi-Fi network you are connected to, connect to a brand new network, or manage networks you have previously connected to. To connect to a new network, press the menu key, and then click "New." You must already know the security type of the Wi-Fi network you are going to connect to.

    Most networks broadcast their network name (SSID), so you can simply scan to find them. If your network has a hidden SSID, you must manually type the name in. If you are connecting to a network you found via scanning, you simply need to enter the password here, otherwise you must select the security type and then enter the password.

    Once you have connected to the network, your device will give you the option to save the connection profile. Doing this allows you to easily reconnect to the network in the future without entering any information. If you wish to do so, simply name your profile here and click "Next." Otherwise, change the save option to "No," and then click "Next." At this point, if it is a public Wi-Fi network that requires payment, you can enter the information here, otherwise just click "Finish."

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    Managing Wi-Fi Profiles

    If you have just added a new network, or if you open the Wi-Fi Options in general, you will be brought to the profile management screen. There are two primary functions on this screen, setting the Wi-Fi Selection Mode and arranging the priority of your networks.

    Wi-Fi Selection Mode can either be manual or automatic. If you set it to manual, you must tell your BlackBerry which Wi-Fi network to connect to each time you wish to use one. This can be useful if you want to have explicit control over the network your device uses. The other option is automatic, which will follow your priority list of networks and automatically connect to the strongest one whenever one or more are in range.

    The network priority list of your profiles is simple: the higher on the list, the higher a priority the network has. To rearrange them, highlight the profile you wish to move, and click menu. Select the "Move" option, move the network profile to its new location, and press select. If you wish to edit or delete a network profile instead, simply highlight the profile, click menu, and select either "Delete" or "Edit." One other potentially useful option is "Disable," which will prevent your device from using the network until told otherwise, but will not remove the settings.

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    Closing Remarks

    If you carry your BlackBerry to several locations with Wi-Fi access, either residential or commercial, it is worth taking the time to set up the Wi-Fi profiles. You can increase productivity, decrease wait time, and if you don't have a data plan, lower your monthly costs as well. You can also access intranet sites on local networks if necessary, and also avoid log ins to your corporate network over the cellular network. Wi-Fi is one of the most useful features added to the BlackBerry in recent years.