Research In Motion will develop a version of its BlackBerry handset that supports China’s homegrown 3G standard, TD-SCDMA, the company said Tuesday, expanding an existing partnership with operator China Mobile.
RIM and China Mobile will jointly develop BlackBerry models fthat support TD-SCDMA and TD-LTE, a more advanced mobile technology that is currently under development in China, they said in a statement. The companies did not say when the TD-SCDMA version of the BlackBerry will be available.
China Mobile — which has sold BlackBerries in China since 2006 — will offer the BlackBerry Internet Service starting next year, giving Chinese BlackBerry users access to multiple POP3/IMAP e-mail accounts, and expand its sales focus to include small businesses and consumers.
Developed largely in China, TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access) is the 3G standard used by China Mobile, the country’s largest mobile operator. The operator is the only one in the world that uses this particular flavor of 3G, which means there aren’t as many handsets that support it.
China allocated different 3G technologies to its mobile operators. That means rival operators like China Unicom, which was allocated rights to use the more established W-CDMA (Wideband CDMA) standard, have easy access to a wider range of handsets, including Apple’s iPhone 3G, which the company started selling in China during October. W-CDMA is the only 3G technology that the iPhone supports.
In addition to the expanded partnership with RIM, China Mobile has reached out to handset makers, including Dell, Lenovo, Nokia and others, to develop a range of TD-SCDMA smartphones that will be under its Ophone brand and run a modified version of Google’s Android operating system.
Motorola said Tuesday that it will sell a TD-SCDMA smarthphone under the Ophone brand is similar to its Droid handset, which went on sale in the U.S. last month.