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BlackBerry technology now available in Russia

MOSCOW, February 29 (RIA Novosti) - Several thousand BlackBerry smart phones are to go on sale in Russia this year through the country's two leading mobile operators, the companies' press services said on Friday.

In 2008, MTS and VimpelCom received the go ahead to import several thousand handheld devices, developed by the Canadian company Research In Motion (RIM), which support push e-mail, web browsing and internet access, as well as a full range of multimedia and mobile phone services.

MTS said it would be selling 7,800 phones of four models: 8100 Pearl, 8300 Curve, 8700g and 8800, while VimpelCom (trademark Beeline) plans to promote just the 8700g model.

"We plan to provide corporate clients with secured access to corporate e-mail and BlackBerry applications early in the second quarter of 2008," an MTS spokesperson said. "We are ready to launch the service in the nearest future," VimpelCom said.

According to media reports, Russia's third biggest mobile operator, Megafon, is to launch a technology competing BlackBerry.

The technology, widely used in most parts of the world, was delayed in Russia over a dispute between RIM and the Federal Security Service (FSB) over BlackBerry's encryption software. The FSB is responsible for issuing certificates for technology capable of encrypting data.

The FSB demanded the manufacturer hand over details of the encryption codes citing security reasons, but the company refused and the deadlock lasted until November 2007, when a compromise was reached.

MTS agreed to provide the security agency with a list of subscribers, the FSB later confirmed the device complied with Russian laws and gave the go ahead for the smart phone to go on sale.

The BlackBerry Enterprise Server for corporate users is extensively integrated with the Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Domino, and Novell GroupWise. Such services are especially popular with major North American corporations. Individuals and small companies can use the BlackBerry Internet Service, which provides access to up to 10 personal or corporate e-mail addresses.

It is estimated that currently there are around 8 million BlackBerry users globally.

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