Like more than a few Canadian law firms, Deeth Williams Wall LLP, a 20-lawyer
Toronto firm specializing in intellectual property, enthusiastically embraced
Research in Motion's BlackBerry mobile email/phone device. Deeth Williams
distributed BlackBerrys to all its partners and associates more than six years
ago and installed a BlackBerry server to relay emails to them when they're out
of the office. Now the lawyers can't live without their BlackBerrys – and that
causes problems when they travel overseas.
Deeth Williams chose Bell Mobility as its network provider, also like many other
firms. While it's more than happy with the Bell service, that choice means
lawyers can't use their BlackBerrys in roaming mode when they travel to Europe
– as they frequently do to visit clients and attend conferences. Bell uses CDMA
and 1xRTT network technology, while European network providers almost
exclusively use incompatible GSM/GPRS, the technology used in Canada by Bell
rival Rogers Wireless.
“The Bell Mobility network has better coverage in North America, but not as much
outside,” explains Dan Buchanan, the firm's systems consultant. “Rogers has a
little less coverage in North America and more outside. So it was a trade-off.”
The solution? When Deeth Williams lawyers head off across the ocean, they take a
BlackBerry unit the firm rents from Roadpost, a Toronto-based company whose
business is renting and leasing mobile phones and handhelds. The Roadpost unit
works the same as the firm's other BlackBerrys, except it has a GSM/GPRS radio
and is set up to work on a U.K. service provider's network.
Just before a lawyer leaves, Buchanan goes on the Web and activates the Roadpost
unit on the U.K. provider's network. Then he gives it to the lawyer, who
synchronizes it with his desktop computer, by copying all his email, contacts
and calendar information from computer to BlackBerry. Once that's done, the
rental unit works exactly like the lawyer's regular BlackBerry, and works all
over Europe. In fact, according to anecdotal evidence from Deeth Williams
lawyers, it works better than North American BlackBerrys operating in roaming
The firm keeps the rental unit all the time and pays a small maintenance fee of
$20 to $30 each month, plus usage fees whenever someone takes it away. In
months when someone uses it, fees range from $150 to $300. It's well worth it.
The firm could have bought one Rogers BlackBerry capable of roaming in Europe,
but this is cheaper and more convenient. “That's the top issue – the
convenience of it,” Buchanan says.