The vast BlackBerry network is malfunctioning in North America, and the cause is not clear at this time.

The outage may be due to software failure or malicious action, but what is important at this time is that everyone — from press to politicians to IT managers — is currently without e-mail service. Here are some details:

  • ABC reports that this is a network-wide outage that began around 8 P.M. EDT time last night. 
  • Bloomberg Radio reported at 9:30 A.M. today that some users in New York City are telling Bloomberg that they now have service.
  • Cnet’s reports that BlackBerry vendor Research In Motion is not giving any timeframe for restoring full service. 
  • Scattered reports on the Internet say that service may not have been disrupted in Europe or Asia. However, telephone message at Research In Motion headquarters emphasizes that both incoming and outgoing messages are disabled for some users. 

Perhaps the biggest immediate problem for the company that provides mission-critical e-mail service to upwards of 8 million customers is the fact that there is little or no information coming from the vendor regarding this outage. This fact could lead many users to question the wisdom of relying on BlackBerry messaging for mission-critical services, particularly in IT management.

  • At 10 A.M. on April 18 (14 hours into the outage), the last press release on the BlackBerry web page is dated April 2.
  • A 9:51 A.M. report on Reuters said that Research In Motion states the service has been restored for most users.
  • By 10 A.M., there was still no mention of the outage on the BlackBerry North American Support page.
  • Bloomberg Radio reported at 10:05 A.M. that an AT&T spokesperson had told Bloomberg Financial Network that BlackBerry service had been restored, so the outage may be over. 

How about you? Do you rely on BlackBerry service for mission-critical messaging? Did you experience an outage? And, critical for mission-critical services, did you even know your BlackBerry was down? Or were you just happily basking in a brief period without any annoying messages?