Telcos turn to BlackBerry for faster wireless access

The BlackBerry will continue to dominate the mobile enterprise market as telecom companies begin to push the deployment of EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) technology for faster wireless broadband access, according to an industry analyst.

EV-DO is a 3G (third-generation) version of CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) capable of offering average data speeds ranging from 400 Kbps to 700 Kbps.

Already, telecom giants like Bell Canada and U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless Inc. are giving a speed boost to the BlackBerry 7130e, developed by Waterloo, Ont.-based Research In Motion Ltd.

EV-DO would succeed well with enterprise customers – especially in health care, municipal governments and financial services – which have been looking at the BlackBerry as a laptop replacement for the mobile workforce, said Roberta Fox, president and senior partner at Markham, Ont.-based Fox Group Consulting.

“The limitation right now is the network. The benefits will really depend on how fast…the business enterprise environment will have EV-DO capabilities,” said Fox.

Earlier this month, Bell Mobility unveiled its new BlackBerry 7130e-based EV-DO offering calling it the “fastest mobile data network ever commercialized.” According to the company, the device is five to seven times faster than anything else currently available in Canada.

South of the border, Verizon recently rolled out its own EV-DO-enabled BlackBerry 7130e, which uses the mobile operator’s BroadbandAccess Internet service.

Verizon already offers the BlackBerry 7250 for its NationalAccess service. The 7130e is the first BlackBerry sold by Verizon that can take advantage of BroadbandAccess, available in 171 U.S. metropolitan areas, the company said.

The 7130e is a phone as well as a BlackBerry, with data capabilities including RIM’s push e-mail system as well as Web browsing and corporate applications. It’s the size of a phone and uses a combined QWERTY keyboard and numerical phone keypad, according to Verizon. It can also be connected to a notebook PC as a data modem. When users leave a BroadbandAccess coverage area, the 7130e will run on the slower NationalAccess service.

Sprint Nextel Corp., another provider of EV-DO in the U.S., doesn’t yet offer a BlackBerry that uses EV-DO. However, all the phone/personal digital assistant devices Sprint offers from now on will be able to use its EV-DO network, said spokeswoman Amy Schiska-Lombard.

Verizon’s 7130e carries a list price of US$299.99 with a two-year service contract. Prices for enterprise volume purchases may vary, said Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney. It is available now through Verizon’s business channels and online. The device will hit Verizon Wireless and Circuit City retail stores Dec. 1st.

The BroadbandAccess Connect service is available for $15 per month with any Verizon Wireless BlackBerry voice and unlimited data plan, priced starting at $79.99 per month. Broadband Access Connect costs $30 per month with a BlackBerry unlimited data-only plan, which is priced from $49.99.

-With files from Mari-Len De Guzman

Related links:

Bell unveils superfast mobile data network

RIM makes Blackberry messages more secure

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