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More Blackberries for Britain

Vodafone to offer Blackberry wireless email device

Vodafone will start selling its BlackBerry wireless email devices to corporate customers here in June, offering a roaming service throughout most of Europe, said Research in Motion on Tuesday.

The deal with Vodafone marks RIM's latest push onto the European market and gives it a foot in the door at Vodafone Group, Vodafone's parent company and one of Europe's largest mobile operators.

The BlackBerry device, which looks like a pager with a large screen and keyboard, landed in Europe late last year when 02 — BT's wireless unit — started selling it through its BT Cellnet subsidiary.

So far about 250 businesses have signed on for the BlackBerry service offered through 02. In the USA, where BlackBerry was launched three years ago, 14,400 companies were using BlackBerry as of 2 March.

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

Operating on GPRS (general packet radio service) mobile networks, BlackBerry offers an always-on connection to email inboxes. For now it's available to corporates willing to shell out £2,500 for BT Cellnet's Enterprise Edition server software and 20 user licences. The 5,820 handheld is sold separately and costs £399. Airtime is a flat rate of between £29 and £39 per user per month, according to RIM. Ouch.

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