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 Inc.'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 $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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