Australia becomes latest BlackBerry picker

Australia has joined the list of countries offering the BlackBerry wireless e-mail terminal to corporate customers, through an agreement signed Thursday between the country’s largest telecommunication company, Telstra Corp. Ltd., and BlackBerry developer Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM).

Telstra intends to offer BlackBerry over its GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) network enhanced with GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) with a pilot scheme beginning next month and a commercial rollout later in the year, Telstra said in a statement.

The service will use the BlackBerry 5820 device, which runs Sun Microsystems Inc.’s Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME). The service will feature always-on e-mail access from the device, phone, SMS Short Message Service) and organizer applications, Telstra said.

RIM, of Waterloo, Canada, also provides server software for configuration and management of the service as well as back-end integration with corporate systems and security.

No customer pricing details were immediately available, but in Hong Kong, the only other Asian market to have launched a BlackBerry-based service, the device costs US$241 with a monthly service charge of $92 for unlimited e-mail access.

Several countries have recently launched BlackBerry-based services, including Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands and the U.K.

France is expected to be the next European country to launch BlackBerry services, while RIM’s Asian partner Hutchison Telecommunications (Hong Kong) Ltd. is planning launches in the Macau Special Administrative Region of China, and then in mainland China.