BlackBerry Outages Spread to North America

Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) warned on Wednesday that BlackBerry outages have started to spread into North and South America, the third straight day since the smartphone maker initially reported global service problems.

David Yach, the chief technology officer at RIM, said the outages are not believed to be a result of hacking. While the company believes it has identified the root cause of the original failure, it will conduct a full investigation once the service is restored.

RIM customers in Europe and the U.K. reported problems with emails, messaging and browsing, with disruptions further spreading across Asia. Outages have also been reported in the Middle East and Africa, as well as in the U.S., Brazil, Chile and Argentina, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, confirmed on Wednesday that subscribers in the Americas "may be experiencing intermittent service delays this morning." The company said it has global teams working to minimize the impact of the outages to customers and resolve the situation as quickly and possible.

The BlackBerry maker has blamed the problems on a “core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure” in Europe. While the system is designed to revert to a back-up switch in the case of such failures, RIM said the backup did not function as previously tested, which caused a large backlog of data to be generated that it is now working to clear.

When the company’s infrastructure in Europe failed, RIM had to “throttle traffic to stabilize service,” Yach said, though it has not throttled BlackBerry service in any other regions.

While the issue in Europe has been normalized, the reverberations of the backlog have seeped into RIM’s other markets, which is the cause of the continued outages. Yach said customers around the world have seen “varying degrees of impacts,” or have not been impacted at all. All emails will be delivered once service is restored, the company said.

Verizon Wireless, which is owned by Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE:VOD), confirmed to Fox Business that BlackBerry service was down late Wednesday morning.

The disruptions this week add to a growing pile of problems faced by RIM as it struggles to compete with larger rivals Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and cling to the No. 3 spot in the smartphone sector.