RIM adds Wi-Fi support to BlackBerry

Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIM) today announced support for Wi-Fi calls plus greater support for voice over internet protocol (VoIP) for enterprise-wide unified communications.

Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIM) today announced support for Wi-Fi calls plus greater support for voice over internet protocol (VoIP) for enterprise-wide unified communications.

Alan Panezic, RIM vice-president for platform product management, said the firm had been working to integrate Blackberry smartphones with corporate private branch exchanges (PBXs) for a long time.

Blackberry Mobile Voice System 5 enabled a company worker to use his or her deskphone number and extension on their Blackberry and to make and take calls over Wi-Fi and cellular connections as if they were seated at their desks, he said.

The facility was available to firms that use the open Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and Cisco's Unified Communications Manager 6.1 and higher. "If they've got 6.1, they've got everything they need," he said.

Panezic said RIM was working with PBX suppliers worldwide to certify their systems with MVS 5. He named three, but asked to keep their names confidential until they had completed the certification process.

Panezic said the certification programme was particularly strict. "We are messing with dial tone here, so users have a right to expect that it works," he said.

RIM was also speaking to telecoms systems integrators and value added resellers worldwide to ensure that customers didn't have to go it alone. "Many of the customers who are interested in this announcement are global players," he said.

Calls made through MVS 5 were routed through the corporate PBX, giving the firm control over policies with full security (via support for the 802.n wireless security protocol) and features such as least-cost routing for local and international calls.

The system allowed firms to enhance the performance of workers while they were out of the office by providing them with office-like communications facilities, Panezic said.

"It also allows companies to leverage their investment in the corporate phone system and adapt to the growing preference among employees to work where they like," he said.

Other features included Wi-Fi network access controls, network preference settings, authentication, and incoming call filtering.

Panezic added that Blackberry handsets supported Skype, the free VoIP service, on the Verizon network. "We are already partners with Skype," he said.

The new software will be available later this year, starting in North America, and rolling out through Europe Middle East and Africa, and Asia-Pacific by the end of the year, Panezic said.

RIM also released two new handsets, one aimed at networks that use CDMA protocols for network (mainly North America), and another optimised for music. Availability is planned for summer 2010, with pricing to be determined by network operators.

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