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BlackBerry Spreading to Philippines

Mobile device maker Research In Motion (RIM) Tuesday said it has inked a deal that will plant its BlackBerry products in the Philippines.

The contract with SMART Communications, a subsidiary of that country's dominant carrier -- Philippine Long Distance Telephone -- includes support for RIM's wireless e-mail and messaging platform over SMART's GSM/GPRS dual band network (900/1800MHz frequencies).

The companies said availability; pricing and launch dates would be announced at a later time.

"We are very pleased to introduce the BlackBerry wireless platform to our customers," says SMART spokesperson Edgardo Bautista said in a statement. "BlackBerry will provide our customers with the only handheld that will keep them securely connected to their corporate e-mail through push technology. Our corporate subscribers will not need to retrieve e-mail on their phones. Their e-mails will be sent to them automatically. This is the strength of BlackBerry, always on and always connected."

Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM has been working hard to expand it's presence outside of Canada. Since launching in North America in 1999, the company opened its networks in Europe in 2001 and Asia Pacific in 2002. RIM has currently deployed or announced relationships with GSM/GPRS carriers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.

Last month, RIM launched its latest Java-based handhelds (World Band 6210 and Dual Band 6220 models) in Europe. This is the first time, however that the company will make its service and products available in the Philippines.

"We continue to expand the market for BlackBerry by partnering with leading network operators like SMART Communications to deliver integrated voice and data services for business and government users," said Jim Balsillie, Chairman and Co-CEO at Research In Motion.

As part of the launch, RIM and SMART will promote the new dual band BlackBerry 6720 Wireless Handheld, which features built-in e-mail, voice capability, text messaging, Internet browser and organizer applications which can synchronize with office PCs.

The partnership is also expected to go smoothly because the Philippines is primarily supports GSM-based networks. RIM has also made strides to incorporate competing wireless standards like CDMA .