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Thursday, October 13, 2011

BlackBerry Service Restored, Company Says

By WILL CONNORS And LILLY VITOROVICH (Wall Street Journal)

Research In Motion Ltd. said it has fully restored service to its global network early Thursday, as it ramped up communication with carriers and customers—apologizing for the continued delays.
Co-chief executive Mike Lazaridis—who has stayed out of the public eye since Monday, when outages first struck Europe and other markets—appeared on a conference call early Thursday. He apologized for the outages and said the backlog of messages that had clogged systems since Monday is being cleared up.
The outage started with a failure in RIM's European data center, and cascaded across the world. Mr. Lazaridis said the outage was the largest in its history and likely caused by a hardware problem. "We don't know why the switch failed in the particular way that it did," he said.
Mr. Lazaridis and co-CEO Jim Balsillie stopped short of promising any sort of compensation for affected customers, saying such discussions "have not been our priority" as the company scrambles to fix its service. "That's something we are now turning our attention to," Mr. Balsillie said on the call.
Early Thursday, some U.S. customers were still complaining of missing emails. European and Mideast carriers reported improved services.
RIM, meanwhile, mobilized executives around the world to reach out to customers. On Thursday morning Patrick Spence, RIM's head of global sales and regional marketing, told reporters in India that the company was doing everything in its power to restore service, but he declined to say when the company expects normal operations to resume.
Without providing details, Mr. Spence said that RIM will work to overhaul its infrastructure to avoid future service disruptions.
RIM employees are leaving "no stone unturned" to restore service to normal, Mr. Spence said in the conference call. Once that happens the company will work to discover the root cause of the problem, consider compensation for phone carriers affected by this week's outages and try to reassure customers of BlackBerry's reliability, Mr. Spence said.
Vodafone Group PLC, the world's biggest mobile operator by revenue, said Thursday that RIM has informed them that email and its BlackBerry Messenger services are "now in the process of being restored and should be functioning as normal for most customers, although there might be still some cases where web browsing may still be unavailable."
A Vodafone spokesman said the company is "reviewing all options" on the question of compensation for affected customers.
Users in Asia had to contend with patch service Thursday.
The restoration comes after the company earlier blamed service outages affecting customers in Europe, the Mideast, Latin America and India on an internal technical glitch: a failed switch and an inoperable backup. But even as the company had promised customers on Tuesday that it had fixed that problem—and expected customer service to quickly return—disruptions spread Wednesday to previously unaffected markets, like Asia and the U.S.
RIM has said it expected some data delays after its fix, as it worked to send out a "backlog" of data to users.
—Guarav Raghuvanshi and Archibald Preuschat contributed to this article.

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