by Al Sacco

3G Cellular BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet Coming to AT&T this Spring?

Jan 18, 2011
MobileSmall and Medium Business

A BlackBerry PlayBook tablet with AT&T 3G could become available in the United States as soon as late March.

I’m not typically one to share rumors on my blog, and I’ll start this post off by saying that the following information is just that: a rumor. But I decided to go ahead and publish, because this particular rumor not only sounds roughly accurate to me, but it comes from one of my trusted sources, who has not yet provided me inaccurate intelligence.

BlackBerry PlayBook on Display at Devcon 2010
BlackBerry PlayBook on Display at Devcon 2010

According to this source, a high-level BlackBerry administrator who works closely with Research In Motion (RIM) and who wishes to remain anonymous due to a non-disclosure agreement, a cell-enabled (3G) PlayBook is expected be available in late March or early April. The source also says he expects an LTE PlayBook “some time soon” after the release of the 3G PlayBook.

To date, RIM has announced a Wi-Fi only version of the BlackBerry PlayBook with a rough release date of first quarter 2011, or before the end of March. Sprint also said it plans to release a 4G WiMax BlackBerry PlayBook some time this summer.

But we’ve yet to hear anything official about a 3G BlackBerry PlayBook, or an LTE version, on any wireless carrier.

My source says RIM is on track with its Q1 2011 release for the Wi-Fi only PlayBook, with business orders expected to commence in February for March shipping. And the source says a document from one of RIM’s carrier representatives who works with AT&T suggests that a 3G cellular version of the BlackBerry PlayBook, on AT&T, is expected to become available starting in late March or early April, as stated above.

Again, the dates mentioned are just estimates. But the source does seem to confirm the imminent release of a 3G PlayBook—and sooner than later. If RIM is on track to release the Wi-Fi PlayBook in early March, it’s probable that it is also on track with the planned late March/April launch of a 3G, cellular PlayBook.

I have a few somewhat-serious reservations about the PlayBook tablet—specifically the need for a BlackBerry Bridge and a lack of a secure channel back to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) Mobile Data Service (MDS) for business apps—but I’m also extremely anxious to get a PlayBook of my own. This new news does make think it would be a wise idea to hold off on the first, Wi-Fi only version though. Let’s just hope RIM announces an official release date for the Wi-Fi PlayBook along with the introduction of a 3G and/or LTE PlayBook in the near future.

For more on the PlayBook, read “BlackBerry PlayBook: 10 Key Features and Facts,” and “Five Things BlackBerry Admins Need to Know About RIM’s PlayBook.”


Al Sacco covers Mobile and Wireless for Follow Al on Twitter @ASacco. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Al at