updated 11:50 am EST, Sat January 29, 2011
BlackBerry back in Egypt but down in North America
RIM faced mixed blessings on Saturday as service came back in Egypt but suffered a temporary North American outage. NBC's Richard Engel reported (below) that at least some BlackBerry service had come back in Egypt following a total blockade on Friday. Others have noted that phone service appeared to be back up as a whole for Vodafone and other Egyptian carriers.
The service had been shut down both as an attempt by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to silence criticism but also as an immediate attempt to frustrate large-scale protests that took place on Friday. Its decision to backtrack was both a reflection of the ineffectiveness of the ban and of economic realities, since the country would face major economic repercussions from a loss of Internet and phone service.
Simultaneous with the restoration, however, RIM reported an outage of BlackBerry Internet Service across North America. All Canadian and US carriers lost access to the web, BlackBerry Messenger and certain e-mail service on Saturday morning. RIM has since said it fixed the issue at about 11:35AM Eastern. It didn't explain the causes, but it followed on a Verizon-specific flaw for a week that produced erratic BIS access. BlackBerry service has been more reliable in the past year and didn't have a directly attributable reason.
BIS has been key to RIM's strategy and provides encrypted, compressed data, but it has been criticized for being heavily centralized. Other platforms aren't as secure or efficient but are less vulnerable to failure.