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RIM Goes WiFi

BlackBerry has delivered on its promise to have a WiFi-enabled BlackBerry smartphone out this year, today unveiling the 8820 BlackBerry. (See Balsillie: WiFi & FMC 'Imminent' and RIM Intros BlackBerry 8820.)

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) will launch the EDGE (Enhanced Data for GSM) phone later this summer. RIM claims that the device will enable seamless switching between WiFi and cellular networks, so that users can access email, instant messanger, and other mobile apps over WLAN networks.

The phone also supports unlicensed mobile acccess (UMA) technology for phone calls over WiFi. UMA convergence technology is popular with many operators and network vendors because it allows carriers to maintain central control over calls passed between WiFi and cellular networks.

AT&T hasn't announced any official plans to support UMA yet, however. Back in 2005, the operator formerly known as Cingular was said to be undertaking UMA trials but said in 2006 that it would instead install an IMS system. (See Cingular: The Call of the WiFi.)

Cingular has already introduced a major WiFi-enabled device in the last month -- the iPhone. The RIM device, however, is somewhat more business-oriented than the Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) phone, supporting a number of enterprise-approved WiFi security protocols, including WPA, WPA2, and Cisco Compatible Extensions.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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