Celebrity Blackberry users take to Twitter to complain as internet blackouts continue for third day
THE maker of BlackBerry has insisted it is working "around the clock" to return the service to normal after users were hit by a third day of chaos.
Research in Motion (RIM) - the company behind the smartphone - has drawn widespread anger following Monday's internet blackout, which reportedly left millions of people unable to access email or surf the web.
Apologising for interruptions and delays, RIM's chief information officer Robin Bienfait said on the company's website: "You've depended on us for reliable, real-time communications, and right now we're letting you down. We are taking this very seriously and have people around the world working around the clock to address this situation.
"We believe we understand why this happened and we are working to restore normal service levels in all markets as quickly as we can."
In a later posting, the company insisted there was "a significant increase in service levels" in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa, and that service was "progressing well" in the US, Canada and Latin America, despite some continued delays.
It remains unclear how many of the 70 million BlackBerry subscribers have been affected by the outage, but many have vented their frustrations on Twitter.
Business mogul Lord Sugar left a string of postings on the micro-blogging site, eventually insisting: "If it was my company It would have been fixed by now."
Piers Morgan was another famous face to be hit by the technical glitch.
"One positive of the #Blackberry crisis - my personal trainer can't get hold of me," he wrote on Twitter.
Problems with BlackBerry services started at around 11am on Monday.
RIM initially gave the all-clear on Tuesday morning but was later forced to admit in a recorded message that it was experiencing a "service" issue which was having an impact on subscribers in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India and several carriers from the Latin America region.
The initial hiccough was reportedly caused at the company's UK hub in Slough.
Resorting to mockery, Lord Sugar said: "If the BB server fault is in Slough they need Ricky Gervais to sort it" - a reference to the comedian whose hit sitcom The Office was set in the Berkshire town.
On Tuesday night, RIM attributed its problems to a "core switch failure" within its infrastructure and assured users it was working to clear a "large backlog" of data.
In a press conference last night, RIM's chief technology officer David Yach confirmed the initial switch failure happened at one of the company's European sites.
But he refused to be drawn on the precise location or on the total number of people who may have encountered problems.
"We are focused on containing the issue and minimising the impact on our customers," he said.
"It is our top priority to return BlackBerry services to our customers. In parallel, we have separate teams investigating root cause."
The problems, which have now spread to North America, intensified after a backup system failed following the core switch malfunction, he said, dismissing rumours that hacking or a security breach could have caused the glitch.
"We've seen no evidence that this is the case," he added.