BlackBerry service disrupted in UAE, Europe, Africa

Research in Motion said inability to send e-mails and messages was caused by unspecified "network issues".

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DUBAI // Thousands of BlackBerry users were unable to send and receive messages on Monday after a collapse in services across the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

Widespread disruption to data services, including mobile internet and the popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), affected many subscribers.

Some turned to the social networking site Twitter to vent their frustrations.

“I can’t survive without BBM,” one Abu Dhabi resident wrote on the social networking site.

“We’ve had some network issues that we’re trying to resolve,” said Patrick Spence, the managing director for global sales and regional marketing at Research in Motion (RIM), which makes BlackBerry smartphones.

Mr Spence said the disruption had been caused by unspecified technical problems, and was not able to say when full service would be resumed.

Telecoms operators across the region sent out messages alerting customers to the problem.

“We received updates from RIM confirming BB services in Europe, ME & Africa are affected starting 09.19 GMT today & degradation is ongoing,” du said via Twitter.

The operator said at around 1pm that around half of BlackBerry users were affected by the problem, but that the “level of impact is gradually improving”.

“Subscribers may experience delays in sending or receiving messages, roaming, or using other services such as internet browsing,” du said later in the day.

Other regional operators including Etisalat, Vodafone Egypt and Batelco in Bahrain also informed customers about disruption to services.

Jim Balsillie, the co-chief executive of RIM, was in Dubai yesterday to give an address to the Gitex Technology Week.

He said that there had been a 140 per cent increase in BlackBerry subscribers in the Middle East in the year to August.

The news comes despite a significant decline in its market share elsewhere in the world.