Wi-Fi Comes to Blackberry

By Eric Griffith

February 09, 2005

The new handheld will support WLANs and voice in the enterprise and is leading to deals with companies like Nortel and 3Com, though it lacks cellular capabilities.

Officially announced late last year, the BlackBerry 7270 is here. This is the first version of the popular handheld communicator from Research in Motion (RIM) of Waterloo, Ontario to build in Wi-Fi support, specifically for 802.11b.

While the 7270 will handle voice, it won't be via cellular connections. RIM dropped cell phone ability to target the unit at on-campus use by businesses. The voice support will be done over Wi-Fi using a built-in software client supporting session initiation protocol (SIP). In a perfect setup, the 7270 will handle not only voice but also e-mail and Web browsing, and will serve as an organizer. It could possibly outshine standard Wi-Fi handsets used for voice only, like those offered by Spectralink.

To make the 7270 a more viable option for enterprises to consider, RIM has teamed up with infrastructure companies to make sure SIP support for the 7270 is built in. Nortel Networks will make sure the unit can interoperate with its Multimedia Communications Server 5100 (a WLAN switch licensed from Airespace), while 3Com is making sure its own IP-PBX and WLAN switch (licensed from Trapeze) will provide the right SIP for the BlackBerry. Both will resell the 7270 to enterprise customers.

All of these companies are showing the 7270 in action at the VoiceCON show in Orlando this week.

Businesses that deploy the solution will need to be running the BlackBerry Enterprise Server v4.0 and BlackBerry Mobile Data Service, which integrates with Microsoft Exchange, Novell GroupWise, and IBM/Lotus Domino servers.

Originally published on .

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