Pick BlackBerries with GTSI, Others

GTSI Corp. last week became the first business-to-government product provider to offer BlackBerry handheld solutions to its public sector customers.

Research In Motion Ltd.'s Blackberry line of products are wireless handheld devices that come equipped with an embedded wireless modem and keyboard. The RIM 950 is pager-sized and the 957 is palm-sized. The devices feature flat-rate airtime, enterprise sever software and other desktop utilities, including e-mail, calendar and task list functions.

"We made an observation that the government is a very strong potential market for wireless communication, based on the value of e-mail overall throughout government," said Anthony LeBlanc, RIM's manager of government solutions. "Our number one target is definitely the Department of Defense, and we're already doing business with the Air Force and the Navy and currently working with six to eight civilian agencies."

The devices are constantly connected to the BlackBerry wireless network, ensuring that messages are instantly sent or received, and there are no long-distance connection fees. For security, each handheld is password-protected and is designated for a single electronic mailbox. Messages are also encrypted.

The BlackBerry products are available on GTSI's National Institutes of Health Electronic Computer Store (ECS) and NASA's Science and Engineering Workstation Procurement (SEWP) contracts.

GTSI was the first reseller to offer the BlackBerry line, but RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, has since come to similar agreements with CDWG, PlanetGov and Intelligent Decisions Inc., LeBlanc said.

The Blackberry handhelds cost between US$400 and $500 and flat-rate airtime is $40 per month. Government discounts are available through each of the four resellers, LeBlanc said.

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