BlackBerry drops into Australia

National carrier Telstra has begun offering a commercial wireless e-mail service based on the Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) BlackBerry device.

Running over Telstra's GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) service enhanced with GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), the service will use the BlackBerry 5820 wireless handheld device and offer e-mail, phone, SMS (Short Message Service), and organizer features, Telstra said in a statement Monday.

Telstra plans to add the ability to read e-mail attachments shortly and hopes to offer international roaming with the BlackBerry device in future.

The service is principally aimed at corporate customers in Australia, some of whom -- Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., law firm Blake Dawson Waldron, investment house J.B. Were Ltd. and industrial group CSR Ltd. -- have been trialling the system over the past few months, Telstra said in its statement.

The service will cost A$95 (US$52) per month for unlimited use. The price of the BlackBerry device may vary according to the type of service package ordered, but is expected to be around A$1,400, Telstra said.

BlackBerry, developed by Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, was launched in North America in 1999 and Europe in 2001. The service is currently available or scheduled for launch by GSM/GPRS carriers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Italy, and Hong Kong.

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