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12/19/2012
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BlackBerry 10 Builds Carrier Support Ahead Of Launch

RIM's forthcoming smartphone platform received another bid of confidence, as a handful of European network operators have voiced their support for BlackBerry 10.

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Research In Motion is making a lot of noise about BlackBerry 10 ahead of its January 30, 2013, debut. The latest bit of news reveals that more wireless network operators have committed to offering BlackBerry 10 devices once they are available.

A handful of European carriers Wednesday voiced support for the platform, including EE (formerly Everything Everywhere), Orange, T-Mobile, O2 and Vodafone. Together, these network operators cover a large swath of the European Union. EE's commitment is notable, as it said it will offer BB10 devices with 4G service in its U.K. market. EE is the only carrier that offers LTE in the U.K. If there's one thing BlackBerrys have lacked, it is access to fast 4G data networks.

In the U.S., the four major carriers have all said they'll support BlackBerry 10. That includes AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless. Smaller players, such as MetroPCS, Cricket and others have not yet indicated if they will offer BlackBerry devices. It is a given that any BlackBerry 10 devices released in the U.S. will support LTE 4G from the largest network providers.

[ Google developers may not show RIM the same attention as it does Android and iOS. What If Google Ignores BlackBerry 10? ]

In October, RIM delivered BlackBerry 10 to more than 50 network operators around the globe. Those operators are testing the platform and devices for compatibility with their networks. Most of the testing should be complete between late January and late February.

Earlier this week, RIM announced that 120 companies and governments have agreed to test BlackBerry 10. RIM did not name the companies, but each is receiving free software and smartphones to test drive the platform. The companies come from a number of industries, including distribution, financial, insurance, healthcare, manufacturing and media. Of the 120 beta-testing organizations, 64 are Fortune 500 companies.

Whether or not any of these companies chooses to adopt BlackBerry 10 permanently is another matter altogether. Consumers and enterprises alike have shed their love of BlackBerry and switched to Android-based smartphones and Apple iPhones. RIM's share of the smartphone market has dwindled accordingly.

RIM is scheduled to launch BlackBerry 10 at an event in New York City on January 30. At that event, RIM will fully reveal the operating system as well as the first two BlackBerry 10 smartphones. One will have a touchscreen only, and the other will include a QWERTY keyboard. RIM has said that the touchscreen device will be available first, and the QWERTY phone will follow later. RIM has promised that the devices will be available shortly after the January 30 debut.

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