Investors sent shares of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion ( RIMM) soaring by more than 8% after the company said it has signed a deal with Alcatel-Lucent ( ALU) to distribute BlackBerry smartphones in China.

The deal comes after years of effort by RIM to enter China, which holds the potential to be by far the largest market worldwide for mobile phones.

RIM said it has started shipping its smartphones to distribution networks in China and expects widespread availability of its phones in the country by the end of the year.

RIM's stock jumped $9.23, or 8.1%, to $122.61 in recent trading.

RIM had signed a distribution agreement with Alcatel-Lucent last year covering Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia and China. It also has a partnership with China Mobile

The company plans to start with the launch of its 8700 model in China.