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RIM getting down to business with CDMA

Research In Motion gets closer to a U.S. release of a BlackBerry that runs on CDMA networks, a move that could help RIM further penetrate the corporate market in the states.

Research In Motion is getting closer to a U.S. release of a BlackBerry device that runs on CDMA cellular networks, a move that could help the company's effort to further penetrate the corporate market in the states.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company, which has already released the CDMA (code division multiple access) device in Canada, received a grant approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Feb. 20 for its BlackBerry 6750 wireless handheld. The company announced the device in early December, saying it was in customer trials in the United States and Canada and would probably be available through Verizon Wireless in the first quarter of 2003.

RIM said the device went on sale earlier this month in Canada through Bell Mobility and that Verizon Wireless would determine U.S. availability. Verizon Wireless did not return calls for comment.

Availability of a device for CDMA networks would provide a boost for RIM, according to Jason Tsai, an analyst with equity research firm ThinkEquity.

"Two of the top three cellular providers have CDMA networks," Tsai said. "Availability through Verizon is a good way to get into the enterprise market (for RIM and its BlackBerry 6750) because of (Verizon's) strong influence there."

Tsai said that the next interesting developments for RIM reside in Nokia's 6800 device, which will use RIM's BlackBerry software and service and involve new licensing partners. The Nokia 6800 is expected to hit the United States this year.

Lawyers for RIM appeared at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Friday for a hearing regarding a lawsuit from holding company NTP. The court did not make decisions relating to damages and injunctive relief but ordered the two companies to begin mediation discussions overseen by Magistrate Judge Dennis W. Dohnal. No time frame was set for the mediation.

At the end of last year, a jury decided that RIM infringed on patents and ordered it to pay $23 million to NTP. RIM appealed the decision, saying that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is re-examining five of the patents owned by NTP.