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System upgrade to blame for BlackBerry outage

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A three-hour outage that left many BlackBerry users unable to send and receive email was the result of an upgrade gone wrong.

The upgrade to Research in Motion's internal data-routing system was designed to expand capacity. But instead, it disrupted email service for many subscribers located in North America. The episode, which began around 3:30 pm Eastern Standard Time, caused severe withdrawal symptoms among the more severe CrackBerry addicts, who have grown used to checking their email just about anywhere, frequently during meetings and meals.

It was the second major outage in less than a year. In April a separate upgrade disrupted service in Canada and the US after engineers tried to make improvements to network caching systems. With a growing base of subscribers that recently reached 12 million, RIM's frequent upgrades are understandable, but hey, haven't these guys heard of dry runs? The company says it made similar changes before without suffering the same types of outages.

The outages are at least in part the result of RIM's centralized network, which creates a single point of failure by funneling all email from North America through a network operations center. According to the Associated Press, that's where Monday's problem appears to have occurred.

Meanwhile, RIM is conducting a full analysis of the most recent outage and says it could take "several days or longer" for it to be completed.

"No messages were lost and the system continues to operate normally today," RIM says. ®

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