02:11 - Source: CNN
RIM apologizes for BlackBerry outage

Story highlights

BlackBerry outage spreads to North America on Wednesday morning

Maker: Cause was "extremely critical issue" on BlackBerry network

Company says it is working "around the clock" on a fix

Customers say the outage has disrupted business and personal lives

CNN —  

Millions of BlackBerry users remained without service on Wednesday as a three-day network outage spread to North America, causing massive frustrations for people who rely on these smartphones for business and personal communications.

“BlackBerry subscribers in the Americas may be experiencing intermittent service delays this morning,” Research in Motion, maker of BlackBerry smartphones, said in a statement. “We are working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible and we apologize to our customers for any inconvenience. We will provide a further update as soon as more information is available.”

The outage now impacts people on nearly every continent, according to the company’s statements.

An “extremely critical issue” on the BlackBerry network caused the outage, Stephen Bates, RIM’s managing director in the U.K., told CNN’s Richard Quest. He added: “We’re putting all of our focus with all of our engineers and all of our network specialists on trying to understand the nature of why this backup system didn’t work as it should have …”

The service outage started on Monday with customers in the Middle East, Europe and Africa, before spreading to South America and Asia on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning it appeared to hit the United States and Canada. The outage appears primarily to affect text messaging and Internet access from the mobile phones, not necessarily their ability to place calls.

No customer e-mails have been completely lost, and they will be delivered eventually, RIM said in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, according to CNNMoney’s Julianne Pepitone.

CNNMoney: RIM can’t win

In a statement released Tuesday, the company said the “messaging and browsing delays being experienced by BlackBerry users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Brazil, Chile and Argentina were caused by a core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure. Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested.”

The company said it is working “around the clock” to fix the problem.