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Russia's MTS starts BlackBerry service for non-corporate clients


MOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti) - MTS launched on Thursday wireless internet services through the BlackBerry platform to non-corporate subscribers, the president of Russia's largest mobile phone operator announced.

"MTS stores in Moscow have begun selling and connecting BlackBerry devices for individual clients in Moscow," Mikhail Shamolin told RIA Novosti.

The BlackBerry handheld device, developed by the Canadian company Research In Motion Limited, enables users to access e-mail, phone, text messaging, the Internet, and corporate data applications.

MTS and its major rival VimpelCom obtained licenses to import BlackBerry handsets into Russia in February 2008. After receiving approval from regulators, MTS launched BlackBerry for corporate clients in June 2008.

MTS spokesperson Irina Osadchaya said some 500 large corporate customers in Russia were currently using BlackBerry.

VimpelCom, which runs the Beeline brand, is not planning to offer BlackBerry services to individuals.

"We are planning to concentrate on developing BlackBerry service for corporate clients," VimpelCom spokesperson Ksenia Korneyeva said.

MegaFon, Russia's third-largest cellular phone operator, launched MegaSync, an analogue of Blackberry, in December 2007.

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