eWeek reports that RIM's head said dual Wi-Fi/cell Blackberrys are on the way: The head of Research in Motion said that dual-mode devices would be available by year's end. A CDMA version is also on the way to support the cell network standard used by Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel in the US and several carriers in South Korea.
The addition of Wi-Fi will be a boon to hotspot operators. There are approximately 5m Blackberry subscribers as of late in 2005. While those users won't convert en masse, if RIM adds features that work better with more bandwidth, Wi-Fi service plans would almost certainly be cheaper than corresponding EVDO/HSDPA plans. Hotspot aggregators, especially, might be able to offer highly discounted access for devices much less likely to use bandwidth, and increase overall Wi-Fi network utilization.