Two numbers, two bills, one phone

It’s not uncommon to see business people pull out two mobiles. Clumsy and comical at times, but for many it’s the best way to separate business and personal calls and the bills that go with them.

It’s also a juggling act that BlackBerry Ltd. (TSE: BB) intends to put an end to with the introduction of a solution that allows users to have multiple phone numbers on a single device. It’s a solution that will also help IT departments better manage bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and corporate-owned personally enabled (COPE) handsets, the Waterloo, Ont.-based company said.

BlackBerry announced it acquired Movirtu, a developer of identity solutions for mobile operators which has developed a virtual subscriber identity module (SIM) platform that allows both business and personal phone numbers to be used in a single device. The technology also enables separate billing for voice, data and messaging on each number.

BlackBerry said the solution will be rolled out for iOS, Android and BlackBerry phones.

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“In a BYOD and COPE world, there remain a number of efficiency and convenience challenges facing enterprises, employees and mobile operators alike,” said John Chen, CEO, BlackBerry. “The acquisition of Movirtu complements our core strategy of providing additional value added services, and it will leverage our key assets, including our BES platform, along with our existing global infrastructure which is connected to a large number of mobile operators around the world.”

Some time ago, BlackBerry released the BlackBerry Balance. Balance help IT departments better isolate and protect corporate data and the company network from the user’s personal mobile activities while providing the user a measure of privacy around their personal use of their BlackBerry, iOS or Android phone.

The Movirtu Virtual SIM platform extends that capability, said John Sims, president for global enterprise services at BlackBerry.

In a recent blog appearing on the BlackBerry site, he commented on how it can help address current developments like a ruling last month by a California Appeals Court that employees in the state are now responsible for reimbursing employees for business-related phone calls on corporate devices. It’s a ruling that could possibly affect BYOD and COPE programs elsewhere.

“BYOD and COPE have created a number of challenges for enterprises, employees and mobile operators,” Sims said. “The California ruling may seem focused on just employees’ rights, but it’s important to remember that dividing usage of mobile devices between an employer and employee is meant to provide a fair allocation of accounting and cost for everyone.”

He said the ruling also protects ownership of personal and corporate numbers for both the business and their employees should the worker leave the company.

“We address the challenges of BYOD and COPE by providing our unique and innovative technology solution through BlackBerry’s existing relationships with mobile operators and customers around the world,” said Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO, Movirtu, in a statement.

The acquisition complements BlackBerry’s Secure Work Space, BlackBerry Balance and other partitioning technologies. With Movirtu, employees can switch between profiles for calls, data and messages, while on their home network and in roaming situations.

This give employees the freedom and privacy they want for their personal use while delivering the security and management needed for business use, BlackBerry said.

The new Virtual SIM capabilities will be offered by BlackBerry through mobile operators to provide customers with multiple identity-based service offerings. BlackBerry will support the deployment of Movirtu technology by mobile operators on all major smartphone operating systems.


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Nestor Arellano
Nestor Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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