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Orange ditches BlackBerry Bold after 3G woes

Problems 3G-related, Orange UK confirms

Orange UK has stopped selling RIM's BlackBerry Bold mobile phone handset. Orange took the decision to ditch the BlackBerry Bold smartphone after concerns were raised over potential software problems with the snazzy-looking device.

According to an internal memo, leaked to a mobile phone website last week, Orange took the decision to suspend shipment of the BlackBerry Bold, due to unspecified technical faults.

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"Following reports of software issues with the BlackBerry Bold handset across a variety of mobile operators, Orange has decided to act in the interest of its customers by suspending shipments of the device in the UK. We are currently awaiting feed back from RIM as to when an industry wide fix for these issues will be in place, and expect this suspension to be an interim measure."

Reports suggest the problem lies with the device ensuring reliable reception, and Orange has subsequently confirmed the problems are 3G-related.

"Orange UK is committed to providing the BlackBerry Bold to its customers in the UK, however Orange UK and RIM are currently working on providing a maintenance release of software to address some reported 3G-related concerns," an Orange spokesman told PC Advisor's sister title Techworld.

"Although the reported 3G concerns have been limited to a minority of Orange customers in the UK, Orange UK and RIM both take customer concerns very seriously and felt it was prudent to introduce a maintenance release of software for Orange UK customers at this time. Orange UK and RIM apologise to customers for any inconvenience and expect to provide a software maintenance release soon," she said.

An industry source told Techworld that it is a UK-only issue, and the devices are still being sold by Orange throughout Europe.

Meanwhile, the same source told Techworld that it is a 2G to 3G handover issue that is plaguing Orange. Indeed, other UK operators do not seem to have the same problem and are still selling the device.

Vodafone confirmed that there are no known issues selling the Bold through the Vodafone network. "We have a vigorous testing programme at Vodafone UK, indeed it is one of the most vigorous in the world," a spokeswoman said. "We are comfortable the Bold is performing as we want it to, and that it is very popular phone that is selling really well."

Vodafone did admit that there had been some handover issues between 2G and 3G at the beginning, but they had gone back to drawing board and solved it.

This is not the first glitch that has hit RIM's devices. Back in July, RIM patched a critical bug in its BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), which could have allowed hackers to trick users into opening rigged PDFs.

Last week, RIM launched its new touch-screen device, the BlackBerry Storm. Both the Storm and the Bold have been touted as RIM's answer to the Apple iPhone, and the news will be come as a blow to RIM, which had been using these devices to shore up its market share in the business segment, as well as broaden its appeal to the consumer market.

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