Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Experts Question Cause of Worldwide BlackBerry Outages

The BlackBerry maker is in a real jam.
Research In Motion admitted Wednesday it did not know when it would be able to resolve a massive worldwide disruption of service that had users of its BlackBerry smartphones in the U.S. and across the world tweeting foul -- when they could get online, that is.
In a press conference late Wednesday, RIM CTO for software David Yach continued to insist that the sticky situation was tied to Monday's "core switch failure," which he said caused a build-up of delayed messages that led to days of worldwide outages -- like water behind a plugged dam that eventually floods the countryside.
"Over time, that backlog has built and it started affecting other systems," Yach explained. But some networking experts questioned whether RIM was revealing the entire story. 
"It sounds dubious," Karl Volkman, the chief technology officer of Chicago-area network consultancy SRV Network, told "This many days after the failure, it's hard to believe."
RIM's system is designed to use a back-up switch in case of failure, Yach explained. The transfer to the backup system did not function as previously tested, he said, suggesting that further, deeper investigation may help to identify the cause of subsequent instabilities.
Switches act like traffic cops, controlling the flow of data, Volkman explained. But could one switch failure days ago lead to the worldwide outages?
"It's got to be other problems that have surfaced due the weight of all these messages going back and forth. There's got to be some sort of cascading effect," he told
Several people have suggested that hackers or a breach of security might have led to the instability. Yach said he believed foul play could be ruled out.
"We've seen no evidence that this is the case," Yach said.
The lingering service disruptions are creating another black eye for RIM, which already is suffering from waning support for its products amid intensifying competition. The company's stock, down 3.9 percent Wednesday, has fallen nearly 60 percent so far in 2011.
Sprint Nextel said Wednesday it was working with BlackBerry-builder Research In Motion to resolve the problems that were affecting all major U.S. carriers. Sprint said the outage in the U.S. started about 7:00 a.m. EDT Wednesday and caused certain BlackBerry users to experience delays or have trouble accessing the Internet, receiving and sending email and text messages and using BlackBerry messenger services.
"Sprint is working aggressively with RIM to resolve this issue," Sprint said in an emailed statement. Early Wednesday, Bell Canada, one of Canada's largest carriers, also confirmed some of its BlackBerry customers were experiencing problems.
Subscribers in Europe reported intermittent problems with emails, messaging and browsing on their handsets Wednesday as well, with further problems being reported across Asian markets including Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and India.
Users were experiencing disruption in services and delays of up to several hours, though there were no total blackouts across Europe.
News wires contributed to this report.

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