BlackBerry Service Outage Sweeps U.S.

RIM has no comment as a "critical severity" outage sweeps through the United States.

BlackBerry users were without service Feb. 11 as a widespread outage hit the users of Research in Motion's popular smart phone. The cause of the outage is still unknown, as is how long it will continue.

According to the Associated Press, AT&T claims the outage has hit all U.S. wireless carriers and that the problem originates at RIM (Research in Motion). AT&T said the first outage begin at approximately 3:30 p.m.

RIM did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did its Web site have any mention of the outage as of 6 p.m., EDT.

Reuters reported that Bryan Simpson, RIM support account manager, sent an e-mail to BlackBerry users late in the afternoon about the "critical severity outage." Simpson said in the e-mail the outage was affecting all enterprise customers and "users of the Americas network.

Last April, RIM also suffered a large outage, blaming the failure of a minor software upgrade to a caching subsystem, the break down of the failover system and the subsequent overloading of a second system.

"It shouldn't have happened, and it won't happen again," RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie told eWEEK after the outage. "It wasn't a corruption of any form of the infrastructure, and that's very important. It shouldn't have happened, and it won't happen again."

Explaining that the problem that caused the April blackout was totally avoidable, Balsillie said that the company was broadening, strengthening and "fault tolerating" the system. "It's a global and public safety imperative," he said, adding that there is no constraint on budget or resources for this work.

Balsillie did note, however, that it's the responsibility of an enterprise to make sure they have continuity plans for times when important communications paths, including BlackBerry e-mail, are out of order. He pointed out that RIM was working with customers immediately upon learning of the blackout.

"We had literally hundreds of our top customers on open bridges with ongoing collaboration and communications. So those that were affected had ongoing communications," he said about RIM's support efforts.