BlackBerry e-mail is back, but problems remain

RIM restores e-mail and Net browsing for most customers overnight, continues monitoring networking systems.

Research In Motion is grappling with a widespread system failure that left the network for its BlackBerry devices in the Western Hemisphere unable to handle e-mails.

"A service interruption occurred Tuesday night that affected BlackBerry in North America," according to a statement from RIM. "E-mail delivery was delayed or intermittent during the service interruption. Phone service on BlackBerry handsets was unaffected."

According to an automated message on RIM's customer service hotline, the company is "experiencing technical difficulties with our BlackBerry service that may cause delays in sending or receiving messages."

This is likely due to a backlog of e-mails stemming from the service outage, which was first reported on the New York metro news site WNBC.com. The outage is believed to have originated around 5 p.m. PDT on Tuesday. WNBC then reported that service was resumed around 4 a.m. Wednesday but that problems with a backlog of data were likely.

"Root cause is currently under review," RIM said in its statement, "but service for most customers was restored overnight, and RIM is closely monitoring systems in order to maintain normal service levels."

(Editors' note: For a later, more in-depth look at the underlying technical and business issues, see this story: "BlackBerry outage: RIM a victim of its own success?)

Because the problem concerns the BlackBerry network, all cellular carriers that support BlackBerry devices have been affected, though it is believed that they were still able to make regular cellular calls through their carriers.

But on the BlackBerryForums.com discussion site, some members also indicated that they could not access Internet-browsing features in addition to e-mail.

RIM initially acknowledged the problem through a recorded message that is played when calls are placed to the BlackBerry customer service hotline, stating that the company is "currently experiencing a service interruption that is causing delays in sending or receiving messages."

No further updates have been provided, and no time frame has been given for dealing with the problem, but the automated message assured concerned callers that they would be kept in the loop.

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