China Telecom to offer BlackBerry services

Consumers now able to access BlackBerry products and mobile email

China Telecom plans to offer service for the popular BlackBerry handset from Research In Motion (RIM), the company said Tuesday, making it the second Chinese carrier to do so.

China Mobile, the world's largest carrier by accounts, previously offered the BlackBerry in China for large business users, but it only this month said it would start offering the device to consumers and small businesses as well.

RIM this month also said it plans to make a version of the BlackBerry that uses a 3G standard promoted by China Mobile and the Chinese government, TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access).

China Telecom has agreed to offer BlackBerry services and is working with RIM on practical arrangements, a representative of the carrier said. A spokeswoman for RIM confirmed the partnership. Pricing and launch details were not available.

China Telecom did not say it would offer BlackBerry handsets itself, but Digital China, a local IT services vendor and product distributor, this month said it would start distributing BlackBerry handsets. Users can also buy the devices at electronics bazaars around China, where they are sold after being brought back informally from overseas.

More smartphones popular abroad have launched in China this year as the country's three mobile carriers have rolled out their 3G services. China Unicom in recent weeks launched the country's first official iPhone sales, and China Telecom is also in talks with Palm to offer handsets including its Pre smartphone.

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Owen Fletcher

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