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MTN, which launched its commercial BlackBerry service recently, is promoting BlackBerry to its business customers as a powerful business tool.

BlackBerry is a mobile solution that combines telephony with push e-mail, SMS and access to the Internet, as well as access to calendar, contacts and other corporate data applications in a single integrated device.

Vodacom was the first network operator to launch BlackBerry commercially in SA, with MTN having focused on running corporate pilots before launching a commercial service.

Speaking at a customer presentation in Sandton this morning, Farhad Khan, MTN business segment general manager, said MTN had access to 30 or 40 business applications developed by Research In Motion, the Canadian firm behind the BlackBerry communication device.

In addition, the cellular network operator has the ability to develop customised applications suited to its business customers, he added. This takes BlackBerry beyond being a simple e-mail solution.

Khan said there were “horizontal” applications such as customer relationship management and e-mail management, as well as industry-specific “vertical” applications, such as stock quotes and portfolio management in the financial and insurance sector, and drug databases in the healthcare sector.

The group was offering browser-based solutions, client/server solutions and third-party solutions, he said.

Ashraff Paruk, product and innovation general manager, said MTN's strategy was a multi-bearer data strategy, with a strong emphasis on corporate mobility on the business side and on MTNLoaded in the individual market.