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BlackBerry granted 'Authority to Operate' on US Department of Defense networks

In a rare piece of good news for BlackBerry, the company has been granted high level clearance to operate on US Department of Defense networks, the first mobile firm to gain such approval.

The Authority to Operate authorisation allows BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 devices running on the BlackBerry 10 OS to access and run on the government's secure networks.

The Defense Information System Agency is now developing the infrastructure needed to incorporate the smartphone into their systems, BlackBerry has said.

This will give the Department of Defense capacity to support 10,000 BlackBerry 10 smartphones by the autumn and 30,000 by the end of this year.

The result will be a relief for the ailing firm after its position as US government agency's number one smartphone provider was threatened when Apple and Samsung devices were cleared for use by the Department of Defense.

Soon after, Samsung signed a deal with the FBI and US Navy to supply its Galaxy devices. Apple and Samsung have not however been granted Authority to Operate orders, but a less stringent Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS), which Blackberry also already held.

Given that Samsung and Apple were granted FIPS authorisation soon after the Blackberry 10 though, the two rivals may also be set to receive the higher level clearance in the near future.

Of the 600,000 US Department of Defense staff provided with smartphones or tablets, the vast majority - around 470,000 - use BlackBerrys, with the remainder using Apple or Android devices.

As well as a small boost in sales, BlackBerry hopes that the clearance will boost its security credentials with potential customers.

"Being the first smartphones to be supported on U.S. Department of Defense networks further establishes BlackBerry's proven and validated security model," said Scott Totzke, SVP of BlackBerry Security Group.