RIM to offer high-speed voice and data device

By the end of the first quarter of 2002, Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM), best known for the ability of its handheld devices to wirelessly access corporate e-mail, will give the units high-speed data and voice capabilities thanks to an agreement with VoiceStream Wireless Corp., a GSM/GPRS wireless carrier.

VoiceStream, based in Bellvue, Wash., currently offers a nationwide GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) service called iStream in all states but California. VoiceStream's GPRS gives users wireless data speeds in the 40Kbps to 50Kbps range, according to Brigette Helsten, spokeswoman for VoiceStream. VoiceStream is a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG.

Leveraging a deal made earlier in the year with RIM, VoiceStream will offer its customers the new RIM devices with iStream. The devices will look similar to the current units. However, they will come with a headset that users can plug in at the top for voice calls.

In addition, users will be able to cable their RIM device to a notebook and use it as a wireless modem.

RIM, of Waterloo, Ontario, also plans to upgrade its device with a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) in order to open up the handheld to a larger development community and leverage the 6.3 million VoiceStream subscribers.

Pricing has not been set yet on the device.

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