Firm Offers BlackBerry Service

BloombergPreviously, BlackBerry devices were only permitted with foreign SIM cards.
VimpelCom became the first operator to introduce the BlackBerry service to the country, selling a contract to the Russian unit of the world's second-largest cigarette maker, British American Tobacco.

VimpelCom said Friday that its customers would use the 8700g model, a wireless handheld device produced and sold worldwide by Canada's Research In Motion.

VimpelCom, the country's No. 2 mobile operator, is in talks with 40 more potential corporate clients, spokeswoman Yekaterina Osadchaya said.

Its main rival, Mobile Telesystems, is about to start offering the service to 30 corporate clients working in Russia, spokeswoman Yelena Kokhanovskaya said.

In October 2007, MTS launched the BlackBerry in Ukraine, first among the twelve members of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The BlackBerry is a wireless handheld device available on about 300 networks in 120 countries. It supports push e-mail, mobile telephone, messaging, web browsing and other wireless communication services.

Russian operators received approval from regulators, including the Federal Security Service, to begin shipping and operating the BlackBerry smartphones in November.

Previously, corporate clients in Russia had been able to use the BlackBerry devices only with foreign SIM cards via roaming.