Research in Motion recently launched its newest handheld product with the introduction of the BlackBerry 8820, a Wi-Fi-enabled smartphone developed for the enterprise marketplace.

The quad-band EDGE- and GSM/GPRS-enabled smartphone weighs 134 grams (about 4 ounces) and comes with a QWERTY keyboard, a trackball navigation system and built-in global positioning system. It supports global, wireless voice and data access through unlicensed mobile access, or UMA, which enables wireless carriers to offer a fixed-mobile convergence service for both business and home use, said Kevin Oerton, the company's director of wireless LAN product management. With a UMA solution in place, the smartphone also can switch voice calls between a wireless carrier's cellular network and a Wi-Fi network, thus improving the coverage footprint.

It also supports the 802.11 a/b/g standards to enable data access over Wi-Fi connections in the enterprise workspace, as well as through public hotspots and wireless residential networks.

“A lot of our enterprise customers are rolling out Wi-Fi networks,” Oerton said, “so the addition of Wi-Fi to the product platform really completes the requirement to bring BlackBerry into the enterprise.”

According to Oerton, the smartphone is compliant with Wi-Fi security protocols, including Wi-Fi protected access (WPA) and WPA2. It also meets Cisco Compatible Extensions requirements for secure connectivity with the vendor's wireless solutions.

“Enterprises should be focused on what kind of security they want to roll out on their Wi-Fi networks,” he said. “We've made that pretty easy because we support WPA and WPA2 and 802.1x, which all of the enterprises should be looking for.”

Oerton noted that for enterprises that require Wi-Fi users to access the corporate network through a virtual private network, the device also includes IP security software.

The 8820 smartphone currently is available only through AT&T. Pricing will be available when the carrier formally announces its product plans, Oerton said. www.rim.com

TOTAL & PROJECTED WI-FI HOTSPOTS WORLDWIDE

2006 — 148,573

2007 — 172,631

2008 — 189,448

2009 — 206,244

2010 — 217,996

2011 — 227,639

Source: In-Stat

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For complete listings of mobile voice and data system and equipment vendors, visit the MRT 2007 Resource Guide at www.mrtmag.com.