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RIM signs pair of radio pacts

The company says Panasonic and Melard will use its radio modems to let their products send and receive data over next-generation wireless networks.

Research In Motion said Wednesday that it has signed two deals with device manufacturers that will use its radio modems for wireless networks.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said notebook maker Panasonic and handheld manufacturer Melard Technologies will use RIM's radio modems to enable their products to send and receive data over next-generation wireless networks known as GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service).

Panasonic will use RIM's radio modems in its line of durable Toughbook notebooks, which target government and field-service markets such as utilities, telecommunications, insurance, transportation and law enforcement. Melard will use RIM's radio modems in its rugged handhelds, which are also aimed at specialized markets.

RIM is best known for its two-way messaging BlackBerry device and service, which allows subscribers to send and receive e-mail messages and calendar updates from a handheld. The company's service also lets subscribers move changes made on the devices onto their primary computers.

RIM's radio modems are one of the company's major businesses, but BlackBerry devices and services are the biggest contributors to revenue. In an effort to branch out into additional businesses, the company has recently made a licensing push.

Earlier this month, RIM announced a program aimed at helping future licensees to integrate the two-way e-mail features in BlackBerry into new devices such as next-generation handhelds and cell phones. RIM developed hardware and software blueprints to aid manufacturers in building products using RIM's technology faster and less expensively.

In related company news, RIM said Tuesday that it will release a new Mobile Data Service, which is being tested in trials. The service, announced in Atlanta at the company's first analyst day, will help developers create new wireless services for BlackBerry.