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BlackBerry Service Crashes for Millions Worldwide

Blackberry in Store in Middle East

 (Reuters)

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. has acknowledged massive blackouts for its popular smartphones around the world -- leaving users stranded without BlackBerry Internet service.

Millions of BlackBerry owners were left without messenger, email, and web access Monday morning following the outage, with no clear indication of when RIM would restore service.

The problem seems to have originated from a downed data center in Slough, UK, which handles Blackberry services for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the Guardian reports. RIM confirmed the service outage on its UK Twitter stream

“Some users in EMEA are experiencing issues,” the company tweeted. “We're investigating, and we apologise for any inconvenience.”

A subsequent statement said Blackberry was "working to resolve an issue currently impacting some Blackberry subscribers in Europe Middle East and Africa."

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. gave few details beyond a brief statement saying that customers were "experiencing issues," but telecommunications companies in the Middle East and Europe laid the blame at the Canadian company's door.

“There is an issue with BlackBerry services at present,” T-Mobile UK said.

Khaled Hegazy, Vodafone Egypt's spokesman, said "there is a problem with the servers in Canada which is affecting service" in the region. He said they expected it would take about another four hours to resolve the issue, which first appeared to crop up at about 1000 GMT (6 a.m. EDT).

RIM was not immediately available for comment.

The extent of the outage wasn't clear. Vodafone UK said that customers across Britain appeared to be unable to access BlackBerry Messenger, a free-to-use instant messaging program which has helped make the handset popular with young people.

Across the affected regions, BlackBerry Internet access appeared to be sporadic. Some users were able to send and receive messages, while others using the same service provider couldn't.

Among the companies reporting problems were Qtel Qatar, Etisalat in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai-based Du, Zain Kuwait, and the Bahrain Telecommunications Co.

The outage occurred as RIM's co-CEO Jim Balsillie and other executives were in Dubai for the annual GITEX electronics show. Balsillie earlier in the day unveiled a new service at the show that will soon let users of some of its latest BlackBerry phones share documents, web links and other information with others by tapping their smartphones together.

Unlike other smartphone services, BlackBerry phones rely on a centralized Internet service provided by RIM making it susceptible to non-carrier outages.

The service downtime will be yet another blip for the once dominant smart phone provider as it continues to struggle against the likes of Apple -- which has reportedly recorded record sales of its new iPhone 4S smartphone -- and the wide range of new devices offering Google’s Android operating system.

The Associated Press contributed to this report