‘Dear BlackBerry’ jokes abound as browsing still an issue in UAE

A man shows a BlackBerry smart phone at his mobile shop in Dubai. (AFP)

‘Dear BlackBerry: Why r u going around posing as a smart phone...you liar?' That’s just one of the tens of thousands of tweets this morning that continue to flood the cyberspace as hapless users vent their frustration against the manufacturers of a device they got so used to for business and leisure.
“Dear Blackberry, I think it’s nice that you're honouring Steve Jobs’ death with a 3 day silence,” said another Twitter user. Even as BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) said in an update to users late Wednesday that all its systems were up and running, and that it was trying to clear the backlog of emails and messages, users were unimpressed.
“Dear Blackberry, I’m glad that you’re back but can I ever fully trust you again? I’ve thought about cheating with an iPhone,” Paulie Fenty, who goes by the Twitter name of Trendeh, tweeted around 6am UAE time.
In an update sent at 11.45am, UAE service provider du said browsing remains unavailable even as other BlackBerry services are being restored. “We are glad to inform you that as per the latest information available from Research in Motion (RIM), E-mails and BlackBerry Messenger systems are back to normal. Priority is being given by RIM to clear back-logged messages and to minimise the impact.
"However, at the moment, browsing is unavailable as teams at RIM are monitoring service stability, and this service is expected to go on-stream at a later stage. In the meantime, support teams at RIM have added capacity to help with message delivery between regions and continents. We request our customers to restart their BlackBerry devices if they are still facing issues," du said.
"For those still having BBM issues: we shared their concerns with RIM who confirmed it's a matter of time before the backlog's fully cleared," @dutweets (du's Twitter account) tweeted at 12.20pm UAE time.
In an update this morning (7.30am UAE time), BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) said Middle East service levels were improving significantly. “In Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, we are seeing a significant increase in service levels,” a BlackBerry service update by RIM said.
“Service levels are also progressing well in the US, Canada and Latin America and we are seeing increased traffic throughput on most services, although there are still some delays and services levels may still vary amongst customers.
“Our global teams are continuing to work as quickly as possible to restore full and consistent service across all regions.”
After what seemed like an image-shattering silence, RIM communicated to its customers via its CIO’s letter on its website. “I want to first apologize for the service interruptions and delays many of you have been experiencing this week. I also wanted to connect with you directly, give you an update on the service issues we are trying to solve, and answer some of the questions and concerns you’ve expressed,” said the letter posted yesterday at 17.44 Ontario time (01.44am UAE time Thursday).
In the letter, Robin Bienfait, RIM’s CIO, said email systems are operating and the company is continuing to clear any backlogged messages in the US, Canada, Latin America, and EMEIA (Europe, Middle East, India and Africa). BBM traffic is online and traffic is passing successfully in all these regions, he added.
“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,” he said.
“We will provide regular updates on BlackBerry.com, RIM.com and via our social channels. We are doing everything in our power to restore regular service everywhere and to restore your trust in us,” he said in what many users say is too late a communication and apology. ‘Dear BlackBerry: Having iPhone fantasies,’ said another user, and many others tweeted similar messages, suggesting that patience among users was running low and many might consider switching over to Apple's iPhone or other Android-based smart phones.
“Dear Blackberry, you better have a way to pay for the damages caused,” read another tweet.
In fact, UAE telecom providers etisalat and du have already promised free service for UAE BlackBerry users equivalent to the time the service has been disrupted.

UAE mobile phone service providers will compensate BlackBerry users in the country for the service disruption and the offer could include a period of free use.

Du announced that it has decided to compensate customers in the following manner:

Individual BlackBerry users:

3 days free service for all existing Blackberry subscribers as follows: 

BlackBerry Social (Prepaid) = 1.5 x 3 days = Dh4.5

BlackBerry Social (Postpaid) = 1 x 3days = Dh3

Unlimited National BlackBerry service (Post and Pre) = 4.33 x 3 = Dh13

Unlimited international BlackBerry service (Post and Pre) = 8.66 x 3 = Dh26

The free credit will also be applicable for BlackBerry customers enjoying free BlackBerry service (under the 6 months offer).

Enterprise BlackBerry users:

3 days free service for all existing Blackberry subscribers – consumers and business.

For both individual and enterprise customers, free credit will be added in the customers’ bills (for Postpaid) or in the More time balance account for prepaid users. Postpaid customers will receive the credit on their next bill, while Prepaid users will receive the credit within the next 3 days.
Etisalat, too has announced that it will compensate its BlackBerry users by providing a three-day free usage to both pre-paid and post-paid customers.

Prepaid customers will receive the equivalent of three days usage, free-of-charge and credited to their account within 24 hours, while for postpaid customers, this will be adjusted in their monthly bill.

Matthew Willsher, Chief Marketing Officer , etisalat said: "Our partner RIM is working on resolving the issue currently impacting users. Keeping our customers satisfied is a priority for us and given the exceptional and unprecedented circumstances, we are compensating our BlackBerry users to demonstrate our care for their loyal and ongoing custom."

It had been negotiating with Blackberry makers, Research in Motion (RIM) of Canada, on the package to be offered to the more than 500,000 Blackberry subscribers to make up for loss of services, it said.

Etisalat sent out tweets and SMSes this morning informing its subscribers: “RIM problems are affecting BlackBerry customers again today. The problem is global. RIM is working to fix the problem."

The problem started in the afternoon although some users said they have been experiencing some sort of glitches since Tuesday morning.

Farid Faraidooni, du’s Chief Commercial Officer, was earlier quoted as saying: “The proposed compensation will be shouldered by RIM since the service failure has nothing to do with Du or Etisalat networks, which are operating efficiently.”

4 continents hit

A series of failures in Research In Motion's (RIM) private network has disrupted BlackBerry service to millions of customers across four continents.

Extensive delays hit Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India on Monday and the problems spread to Brazil, Chile and Argentina on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

"The messaging and browsing delays being experienced... were caused by a core switch failure within RIM's infrastructure," the company said in a emailed update late on Tuesday afternoon in Toronto.

UAE users unhappy

Meanwhile, BlackBerry users in the UAE continued to experience service disruptions on Tuesday afternoon till evening, even after services were partially restored on Monday after a seven-hour outage.

A BlackBerry employee at Gitex Technology Week this afternoon confirmed that the service was fully restored in the UAE but refused to specify what had caused the problem.

 “The technical team has rectified the issue,” the employee who did not want to be identified told 'Emirates 24|7.'

Research in Motion (RIM) makers of BlackBerry on Monday had claimed that the services had been restored and were operating normally.

But early Tuesday afternoon, once again Twitter was active with updates about the latest outage.

“I subscribe to du and my BBM service was restored on Monday morning. But I started having problems again from this afternoon. It is a bit irritating,” said K Rony, a sales executive in Dubai.

Disruptions in Europe, Middle East, Latin America and Africa

Associated Press reported that BlackBerry users across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina were hit with service disruptions to their smartphones for a second day after an unexplained glitch cut off Internet and messaging services for large numbers of users around the world.

BlackBerry's maker says smartphone users in Latin America and India also are also experiencing problems with messaging and browsing services.

Research in Motion (RIM), which makes BlackBerry devices, acknowledged there were ongoing issues on Tuesday, hours after it said services were operating normally and the issue responsible for delays in subscriber services a day earlier had been resolved.

"Some areas have messaging delays and impaired browsing," Blackberry said on Twitter, adding it was working to "restore normal service as quickly as possible."

In Britain, Vodafone UK told customers via Twitter that service was not fully restored. Rival T-Mobile UK blamed "a European-wide outage on the BlackBerry network" which it said was affecting all mobile operators. There were also reports of problems elsewhere in Europe, such as Spain.

And Kenya's Safaricom Ltd. said on Twitter that its Blackberry customers were experiencing a "technical fault," while South Africa's Vodacom told subscribers the issues were affecting multiple networks and countries.

There were no reports of any problems in the US.

Angry smartphone users also used Twitter to vent frustration with the company and bemoaned the loss of their messaging capabilities, questioning why the company took so long to restore services.

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