Vodafone to offer BlackBerry wireless e-mail device

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Vodafone to offer BlackBerry wireless e-mail device

Mobile phone operator Vodafone will start selling the BlackBerry wireless e-mail device to corporate customers in the UK from June this year.

The deal with Vodafone marks the latest assault on the European market by BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM).

The BlackBerry device, which looks like a pager with a large screen and keyboard launched in Europe late last year when mm02 started selling it through its BT Cellnet subsidiary.

UK operators look set to be followed by their European counterparts with RIM predicting Germany's T-Mobile and Italy's Telecom Italia Mobile will start selling the BlackBerry soon, while a deal with a French operator is in the works.

So far about 250 businesses have signed up for the BlackBerry service offered through mm02. In the US, where BlackBerry was launched three years ago, 14,400 companies were using BlackBerry by the beginning of last month.

Operating on GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) mobile networks, BlackBerry offers an always-on connection to corporate e-mail inboxes. BT Cellnet offers the Enterprise Edition server software for £2,500, which includes the first 20 user licences. The 5820 handheld is sold separately and costs £399. Airtime is a flat rate of between £29 and £39 per user per month, according to RIM.

Pricing information for Vodafone's BlackBerry offering will be released closer to the June launch date, RIM said.

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