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Wi-Fi/mobile phone BlackBerry on its way

Wi-Fi BlackBerry 'in back half of 2007'

The BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) that companies use to deliver corporate email to BlackBerry users already supports roaming for customers that travel between multiple operators, so the BES would treat Wi-Fi networks just like additional mobile phone networks, Balsillie said. That capability enables the handoff of data connections and voice calls between Wi-Fi and mobile networks as customers move.

In addition, the BES "presupposes the airlink is insecure", and so encrypts all voice and data transmissions using either technology, he said. The BES already supports Wi-Fi connections because the BlackBerry 7270 has Wi-Fi.

Many mobile operators, particularly those that aren't related to a landline service provider, have resisted FMC (fixed mobile convergence) because they can lose revenue by transferring calls from their mobile networks to a potential opponent's Wi-Fi network. But Balsillie said the operators are open to it. "Most of the carriers I've dealt with are supportive of FMC," he said.

Also, he's finding that an increasing number of operators have both mobile and fixed-line networks, and those companies are looking for strategic ways to leverage both assets. Services such as FMC can allow those operators to offer a value-added service rather than simply offering a single bill.


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