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VoiceStream Adds BlackBerry, PC Card

Carrier VoiceStream launched nationwide availability of the industry’s first BlackBerry e-mail handheld to incorporate a wireless phone.

The carrier also launched its first wireless PC Card, which operates on the carrier’s GPRS data network at “average speeds up to 40kbps” as does the new BlackBerry 5810, the carrier said.

VoiceStream’s prices are $499 for the BlackBerry 5810, made by Research In Motion, and $274.99 for the PC Card, made by Novatel. The 5810 is available with data-only and voice-data service plans.

The 5810 can’t be used like a regular phone because it lacks speaker and microphone. Calls can be made only through a hands-free headset.

The BlackBerry is sold with Enterprise-edition server software.

Both devices are available through the carrier’s direct-to-business channel, value-added resellers, and national master dealer master agent Global Wireless, which sells to value-added resellers. The PC Card is also available through select retail stores.

Like other BlackBerries, the 5810 shares a user’s email address, but this model will combine e-mail capabilities previously available only in separate BlackBerries: the Desktop edition, the Enterprise edition and the Internet edition, said RIM. Desktop-edition models deliver corporate e-mail access through desktop PCs loaded with BlackBerry software. The Enterprise edition worked with software loaded onto a corporation’s network server, allowing users to turn off their networked PC and still get their e-mail.

In the spring, RIM will offer client software that delivers the capability of the Internet edition: the ability to share POP3/IMAP 4 e-mail addresses.

A single BlackBerry will thus deliver access to a user’s corporate e-mail and personal ISP e-mail.

The 5810’s battery life is five days in data-only mode. Voice talk and standby times are similar to high-quality GSM phones, said RIM co-COO Mike Lazaridis. Versions operating on dedicated data networks deliver two weeks of data usage, he noted.

The 5810 is also slightly lighter than its data-only counterparts at 4.7 ounces vs. 4.9 ounces.

For now, BlackBerries don’t open attachments, but Lazaridis said that will soon change. He declined to elaborate.

VoiceStream sells its BlackBerry with data-only or voice/data plans. The former delivers unlimited e-mails, 1MB of WML 2.1 microbrowsing (about 350 pages), and 300 two-way SMS messages or custom alerts at $44.99/month. The voice/data plan costs $39.99/ month for unlimited e-mail and 1MB of Web browsing, plus the cost of standard voice plans, which include SMS and data alerts.

The PC Card can be used with any existing data plan. For $19.99/month, for example, users get 5MB of data, or the equivalent of about 90 web pages or 850 e-mails. An additional MB costs $5.