RIM explains BlackBerry downtime as outage spreads

RIM explains BlackBerry downtime as outage spreads

Summary: The messaging and browsing downtime, which RIM attributes to a core switch failure, is now reportedly being experienced in North America as well as South America, India and the EMEA region

TOPICS: Tech Industry

The latest BlackBerry messaging and browsing outage is the result of a core switch failure in RIM's infrastructure, the company has admitted as the incident continues to spread around the world.

BlackBerry handset

A second outage on messaging and browsing services is continuing to affect users of RIM's BlackBerry handsets. Photo credit: Ben Woods

The disruption to RIM's BlackBerry Internet Services (BIS) is affecting not only the EMEA region — as did an outage that ran from Monday morning to the early hours of Tuesday — but also India and swathes of South America, RIM has confirmed.

Multiple comments across service forums, RIM's Facebook page and Twitter also suggest that the outage has extended as far as RIM's home country of Canada, although the company has not confirmed this. Operator Vodafone Egypt has told customers that the problem has gone global.

"The messaging and browsing delays being experienced by BlackBerry users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Brazil, Chile and Argentina were caused by a core switch failure within RIM's infrastructure," RIM said on Tuesday evening.

"Although the system is designed to fail over to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested. As a result, a large backlog of data was generated, and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible," the company explained, apologising for any inconvenience and promising to "continue to keep you informed".

Telecoms analyst Dean Bubley said the problem could lie in the way RIM "siphons off" all internet traffic to and from BlackBerry handsets for optimisation purposes, without allowing fallback to normal internet peering points in the event of RIM's systems going down.

"RIM routes all data traffic via its servers and network infrastructure, [creating a] single point of failure," Bubley told ZDNet UK. "It does lots of good things — it compresses data a lot, adds security, manages email connections, [enables] BBM and so on — but it also routes the 'vanilla' web traffic through that path as well."

Serious outage

RIM has yet to explain the serious outage that struck BlackBerry services on Monday — an incident that ended just hours before the second one began. It took RIM three hours to acknowledge that the second outage was taking place at all.

It is not clear whether the same fault caused both spells of downtime. A glance at O2 UK's service status page suggests the operator is treating the two as a single incident. The Twitter stream for Vodafone Egypt contains multiple apologies to customers, repeatedly explaining that RIM's systems are suffering a "global problem" and the operator is awaiting feedback from the handset company.

T-Mobile UK, meanwhile, used Twitter to inform its customers it will not compensate them for the loss of service "as this is a BlackBerry issue". The operator's status page urges affected customers to contact RIM via that company's website.

As for RIM's official customer support pages, there are multiple threads full of complaints about the downtime, as well as some suggesting that RIM's signing server is also down. This server, which is essential for BlackBerry developers, suffered a major outage in July.

All this comes at a precarious time for RIM's management. The company is losing market share to Apple's iOS and the Google's Android system, and the merchant bank Jaguar Financial, an investor in the Canadian firm, is campaigning to have RIM broken up or sold off.

According to Reuters, Jaguar, which wants co-chief executives Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis out, said on Tuesday that it has the support of eight percent of RIM's shareholders for its plans — enough to demand a shareholders' meeting about the matter.

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Topic: Tech Industry

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • complete joke! swapping to an iphone :@
  • please try as much as possible to solve this issue on time... thanks
  • Naah, if you love comms/messaging: Windows Phone 7 - iPhone/android old by comparison.
  • Dose anyone know how long this is going to take as the service is still down today? South Africa
  • will we be compensated for our loss ov service and how long is it going 2 take to fix it coz i have paid for wot we use
  • All those saying they'll swap to iPhone... DONT BE DAFT and lets be honest u know u wont cause no one offers a service as good as the bbm when it comes to data swapping n all sorts.... RIM probably wont compensate no one cause its a global issue and you've probably signed for it in the SMALL PRINT of the terms and conditions when buying the phone... They may offer a good will gesture i dont know maybe a a couple of top paid software or something just like the PlayStation did when they were hacked into!!!! but again thats only my opinion!!!
  • well, as of yesterday, apple has introduced iMessenger, so soon as i can upgrade, RIM will lose my business.
  • I'm a avid Blackberry user. And even tho I'm missing my pings, I'll be patient and await my messages. Go on RIM! Fix your issues!
  • well it still not sorted
  • I dont know about a "slow" service........as of 17:00 bst on the 12/10/11 i cannot send any msgs via bbm, pin, whatsapp, or use the internet. This problem is just the most serious manifestation of rim's ongoing inability to make its handsets and services work reliably and consistently.
    I have used Blackberry's for years, putting up with the handset faults and the patchy connectivity, but ive pretty much had enough of paying for such a shoddy service after this farce!
  • How lucky for apple the last few days have been,completely takes the heat off the failure of the ipad facebook app which crashed spectacular on the day it was launched,all you iphone 4 users have you short memorys,i seem to remember they had massive aeriel issues when first launched,i will wait for RIM to sort it out,god i might have to pick up the phone and actually speak to some one what a novelty that will be.
    Get over it all you whingers
  • Hej! please stop comparing BlackBerry devices with iPhones. Let's get down to True Business for a while. I'm the owner of both BlackBerries and iPhone since the beginning of the "Smartphone" era. Even with the iPhone 4GS, my BB 9780 is by far better when it comes to business matters, especially when dealing with huge amounts of e-mails and more specifically when travelling to many countries and continents around the globe. Roaming efficiency with BlackBerry is really a must! There is no way an iPhone can beat a BlackBerry in this area. In addition, just try to write a e-mail before taking your flight at the airport from one security check to another, doing some shopping on one hand and writing an e-mail on the other hand.. still writing an e-mail when going from one gate to another, entering, taking a bus and carrying all your hand luggage (mostly your laptop, overloaded with a lot of accessories): You will feel the true efficiency of BBs against the iPhone series. I mostly use my BB during my business days (and nights) and my iPhone when I just wish to relax, listen to some good music and surf the web...I'm always considering BBs as a very good and efficient (and secure) tool for my business stories while iPhones are the best devices on earth for Leisure time. It's exactly the same when doing Business with a professional laptop and a Mac Book Pro for leisure time...
    This double outage RIM is currently facing seems to be due to the fact that RIM always ensure that Internet streaming using BlackBerry Handheld devices is very secured and optimized for a true "essential business experience". I will always trust RIM to provide the Best-In-Class Service to all business users that are in a need to really do their business in an efficient way.
    This why I will join Gershon's comment to wish the best to RIM so that they can understand and fix this "global issue". Go for It RIM, you are the best and you will still be the best!
  • For people who do a lot of typing and notes BB is still the best and the only.
    Nobody's perfect, just another reminder that noone is flawless.
    Yes, I also do suffer from having no ability to function properly, but there have been worst cases, people - the called off the markets children toys ( due to chemical poisons threat ) and entire load of cars .
    Its just a phone, people. We are all in that together :).
    Angel Blonde, Frankfurt, Germany
  • My BB just got back to normal !
    THATS the happily ever after :))
    Wish everyone the same luck .
  • What a load of Hogwash! How can a switch crash for three days, then another report states the server crashed but back ups of the server are always created unless R.I.M's infrastructure was done by noobs!!!!
  • For someone in I.T both excuses of a Core Switch Failing or a Server crashing is an insult to my intelligence. Inv any country a replacement switch setup could be brought in a few hours and restoring the backup for a crashed server takes only a few hours and with regards to the backlog suffered by R.I.M, they have sufficient infastructure to work through the backlog at max a day.
    R.I.P @ Blackberry
    Real Noob Cover up