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RIM adding 4G LTE, HSPA+ capability to BlackBerry PlayBook

RIM announced this morning that in addition to the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + WiMax versions of the PlayBook, it will also launch an LTE and HSPA + model of its forthcoming tablet.

“We are  now building on the BlackBerry PlayBook’s many advantages with support for additional 4G networks that will allow enhanced business opportunities for carriers and developers and unparalleled mobile experiences for users,” president and co-CEO at RIM Mike Lazaridis said in a statement at Mobile World Congress.

This brings the count to four separate PlayBook tablets – Wi-Fi only, Wi-Fi + WiMax, Wi-Fi + LTE, and Wi-Fi + HSPA+. Each includes Bluetooth tethering, mobile hotspot capability, and BlackBerry Bridge (the label’s own software that enables users BlackBerry messenger, calendar, and e-mail).

RIM has yet to announce what networks will carry the tablet, but given the wide array of connectivity capabilities the various versions will have, it could be any of the large carriers. The announcement also did not include pricing or a launch date, but a screenshot surfaced last week revealing it could be $499.99 and on shelves in April. Just to be clear, that $499.99 tag was attached to the 16GB Wi-Fi only version, so if you’re interested in 4G, be prepared to pay more and possibly wait a little longer. Some sources are saying one model could launch as early as March.

Your patience may pay off, however. Another rumor out there says RIM is working with developers to create software allowing the tablet’s QNX operating system to run Android apps, giving users immediate access to more than 130,000 apps at launch. It’s possible there could be some hiccups in running Android software on a non-native OS, but it’s better than the alternative. RIM is bent on packing this thing full of features as its unveiling looms shortly ahead of us.