RIM plans dual-mode BlackBerry

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by Brian Turner

RIM plans dual-mode BlackBerry

At the JPMorgan Technology Conference in Boston RIM’s co-CEO, Jim Balsillie, announced plans to develop the first ‘dual-mode’ BlackBerry - featuring both wi-fi and cellular wireless capabilities.

Dual-mode technology is necessary for fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), which allows a desk phone and a mobile phone to be contacted through a single number, with the two phones sharing PBX functionality.

At the conference Balsillie said that the inclusion of wi-fi in Blackberry smartphones could take place in the second half of 2007, subject to achieving the seamless transition of a call from a cellular network to a wireless VoIP service, and vice versa.

According to Balsillie most operators are supportive of FMC, as it means that more calls are made through a PBX being routed to a user’s mobile phone, whereas they might previously have gone to the voicemail attached to a fixed-line phone.

Earlier in May, RIM announced plans to introduce its Mobile Voice System, which makes it possible to use a BlackBerry as an extension of a company’s PBX system.

RIM has fallen behind its competitors in providing dual-mode devices - Motorola Inc and Nokia Corp both started selling phones for business users with Wi-Fi and cellular in 2006.

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