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RIM Plays Catch-Up With Wi-Fi

Look for a Wi-Fi-enabled BlackBerry later this year, vendor says.

Nokia has included Wi-Fi capabilities in its enterprise-class devices, such as the Nokia E61, E61i and E70. And Wi-Fi support has been available in Windows Mobile devices, predominantly in OEM devices from HTC. Research in Motion has conspicuously not included Wi-Fi support in its devices with the exception of the Wi-Fi-only 7270. Excitement grew with the BlackBerry 8800, which, in press photos, included a Wi-Fi indicator, causing many to assume that Wi-Fi would be included. However, neither the BlackBerry release from Cingular nor T-Mobile, which has embraced Wi-Fi in its business model, have included Wi-Fi. Adding Wi-Fi to the BlackBerry platform will let users achieve better connectivity within the walls of the enterprise. Wi-Fi also will better position the BlackBerry platform into the emerging FMC (fixed mobile convergence) market. RIM already owns Ascendent Systems, an FMC vendor, and now with Wi-Fi support, the company will be able to address calls over VoIP and possibly call hand-off capabilities.
Sean Ginevan
NWC Contributing Editor

Recent reports that Research in Motion will soon deliver a Wi-Fi-enabled smartphone could make it easier for users to employ a BlackBerry within an enterprise--where 3G is often limited but Wi-Fi is usually available.

That is among the impacts of RIM's decision to finally add Wi-Fi to its popular wireless devices. The BlackBerry's push e-mail requires an always-on cellular service to deliver on its promise of e-mail-on-the-go.

Today RIM is behind competitors Motorola and Nokia, which have offered Wi-Fi on their devices for some time. Users like Wi-Fi for its high speeds and low costs (often free) compared with at-times expensive 3G services.

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