BlackBerry Users in UAE Get Free Smartphone After Shutdown

Some BlackBerry users in the United Arab Emirates will get to choose a new, free replacement smartphone as a result of the U.A.E. government's decision to suspend data services on Research In Motion's smartphones, mobile operator Etisalat announced on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Etisalat was told by the United Arab Emirate Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) to suspend BlackBerry services providing e-mail, Web browsing, instant messaging and social networking from Oct. 11 until the services are in line with the country's telecommunications regulations. However, if an acceptable solution is provided before then, it is possible the services will continue uninterrupted, according to an Etisalat FAQ.

Currently, Etisalat offers a number of different BlackBerry packages to its users, so the replacement phone will depend on the user's service level. For example, subscribers to its Unlimited Global will get a free new phone. However, subscribers to its cheaper packages will have to pay extra to get the most advanced phones.

Replacement phone users can choose from an unspecified version of the iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S, Sony Ericsson's Xperia X10 mini and mini pro, as well as a number of Nokia phones.

Etisalat's users can also get up to 550 local voice minutes per month free.

Each existing BlackBerry package will also get a corresponding base package, which includes data and SMS (Short Message Service) and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) messages.

To qualify for the offers, users will also have to sign up for a 12-month contact, according to Etisalat.

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