RIM Confirms BlackBerry Outage, Investigates Cause - InformationWeek

RIM Confirms BlackBerry Outage, Investigates Cause

Third-party diagnostic tests showed that one of two Internet Protocol addresses used to connect to the RIM network in North America had refused to let connections through.

Research In Motion, maker of the popular BlackBerry smartphone, said Tuesday it was trying to locate the cause of a service disruption that left subscribers with only intermittent access to e-mail and other data services for three hours.

Service problems started about 3:30 p.m. EST on Monday, and lasted until about 6:30 p.m. EST, RIM said in an e-mailed statement. BlackBerry subscribers, most of whom are businesspeople, did not lose any messages during the interruption, and voice communications were not affected.

"RIM continues to focus on providing industry-leading reliability in its products and services and apologizes to customers for any inconvenience," the company said. The cause of the interruption was still under investigation.

However, The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday reported that the service outage appeared to stem from RIM's attempt to expand its network operations center. RIM has been trying to expand the central hub through which all e-mails flow in order to keep up with the rapid growth in subscribers.

In its last quarter, RIM added 1.65 million BlackBerry subscribers, bringing its worldwide total to 12 million, the Journal said.

Zenprise, a maker of service-management software for companies using the BlackBerry, said its own diagnostic tests showed that one of two Internet Protocol addresses used to connect to the RIM network in North America had refused to let connections through. As a result, people were unable to access the service. Users connecting to the other IP address didn't experience any interruptions, Zenprise said.

AT&T reported the service interruption to news media Monday, saying the problem stemmed from RIM and not wireless carriers. BlackBerry data services are provided by RIM over multiple wireless carriers, not just AT&T.

The outage is the second widespread service problem reported by RIM in less than a year. In April, a more serious breakdown centered at the company's primary network operating center for North America left 8 million subscribers unable to send or receive e-mails. The center is located at RIM headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario.

The failure raised questions as to whether RIM, which has chosen to keep its entire network infrastructure in-house and in relatively centralized form, can continue to scale to meet demand for BlackBerry services.

Lately, RIM has been pushing the BlackBerry beyond businesses and into the consumer market. Rather than only supporting features for business, BlackBerry devices are available today with multimedia functions, such as music and video players, cameras, and social-networking software. More than a third of RIM's subscribers are classified as noncorporate or nongovernment.

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