BlackBerry Service Outages Spread to North America

Problems have plagued overseas users since Monday

Much to the chagrin of U.S. BlackBerry subscribers, the service disruptions that have plagued overseas users have spread to North America. Since Monday, BlackBerry users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India have all reported glitches. Browsing capabilities and the BlackBerry Messenger app have been all but useless, while email service has been spotty.

On a special website set up to address the outages, RIM explained yesterday that the messaging and browsing delays overseas were caused by a core switch failure within the company’s infrastructure. “Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch,” the company said, “the failover did not function as previously tested. As a result, a large backlog of data was generated, and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible.”

But as of this morning, users in the U.S. and Canada began to experience the same problems, rendering millions of BlackBerry devices incapable of sending or receiving data. At 3 p.m. EST, the company released another statement, saying that it was still attempting to clear the backlog of messages and email in order to stop the delays.

Thousands of disgruntled RIM customers from around the world took to the official BlackBerry Facebook page to post complaints, ranging from angry, expletive-laden tirades to slightly more rational threats of switching over to Apple, which just announced the release of its own iMessage app to directly compete with BBM.

According to CNET, this has been the worst BlackBerry service disruption in two years. The main issue at hand is that RIM sends all of its email and message data through BlackBerry servers in operation centers around the world. While the centralized system makes it easier to encrypt data for greater security, it also means that when there’s a major disruption, it can knock out entire regions, affecting millions of customers.