Verizon Wireless is hoping to appeal to the international business traveler -- a customer segment that it may have struggled to attract previously -- with a new Blackberry designed to work around the world.
The Blackberry 8830 is similar to the 8800 sold by AT&T but overcomes a shortcoming inherent in Verizon Wireless' network. Verizon Wireless uses CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technology, which is incompatible with GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), the mobile standard used in most countries around the world. The 8830 works on both CDMA and GSM networks, so users can make phone calls and send and receive email in almost any country.
Verizon Wireless already offers two other phones and a PDA that operate on both CDMA and GSM networks.
The 8830 could help both Verizon and Research In Motion, (RIM), the Blackberry maker, stave off increasing competition. Verizon will face a new and potentially significant rival when AT&T begins selling Apple's iPhone. While the iPhone, which will operate on GSM networks around the world and is hotly anticipated by users, it is expected primarily to appeal to consumers, AT&T recently decided to also market it to business customers.
The 8830 should also help RIM tap into Verizon Wireless's large customer base as it battles against Microsoft's recently introduced Windows Mobile 6.0, the mobile phone operating system that targets business users.
The phone supports Verizon Wireless' high-speed EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) data network and GSM's slower GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) data service when roaming. It comes with a media player, MicroSD card slot for added memory, speakerphone and Bluetooth wireless connectivity.
Customers can buy the phone through Verizon Wireless' business sales channel starting May 14 and in Verizon Stores on May 28.