BlackBerry 10 to be piloted by federal agency

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency will run a pilot program to test new BB10 devices and the BlackBerry Enterprise Service.

Research In Motion’s test unit for BlackBerry 10.

RIM’s upcoming BlackBerry 10 is being eyed by one government agency that had already planned to switch to iPhones.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency will take a look at BB10 starting in January. The agency plans to launch a pilot program to test BlackBerry 10 devices and the BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 to see if the new OS can meet its needs for security and mobility. ICE will be among the first government agencies to give BB10 a spin, according to Research-in-Motion.

“ICE has been a valued BlackBerry customer for years, and our commitment to government agencies has influenced the development of the BlackBerry 10 platform.” Scott Totzke, RIM’s senior vice president for BlackBerry Security, said in a statement. “We look forward to sharing more features of the BlackBerry 10 platform at our global launch event on January 30.”

BlackBerry 10 recently picked up FIPS 140-2 certification, which guarantees that customer data is secure and encrypted. The certification is considered critical for government agencies that handle sensitive information.

Yet ICE revealed in October that it was planning to dump its BlackBerry devices in favor of the iPhone. Announcing that it intended to buy iPhones for more than 17,600 of its employees, the agency praised Apple’s hardware and OS as a better fit for its technology needs.

Does the BB10 pilot program mean that RIM is back in the running?

BlackBerry was once the standard for many corporations and government agencies, which favored RIM’s OS for its high level of security and encryption. But more of its former customers have been switching to newer iPhones and Android devices. RIM is counting on its upcoming BB10 to help turn that tide.

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