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BlackBerry service fully restored; outage cause still unknown

BlackBerry service is fully restored for 70 million customers worldwide after three days of outages, Research in Motion announced today.

But officials still don't have a definitive cause for the failure of a core switch that led to the disruption nor did they mention plans for reparations to customers.

"We've now restored full service," said co-CEO Mike Lazaridis in a Webcast held shortly after 10 a.m. ET.

Lazaridis and co-CEO Jim Balsillie didn't say how reparations for customers will be handled. RIM has service level agreements hammered out with thousands of business customers using BlackBerry Enterprise Server that govern outages, but consumers with the BlackBerry Internet Service are not as well protected.

Both Lazaridis and Balsillie repeated that RIM had experienced 99.97% uptime on its global network for the 18 months prior to Monday's outage, which began primarily in Europe and Asia. "We're taking aggressive steps to minimize this happening again," Balsillie said.

At the opening of the news conference, Lazaridis went slightly further than what RIM CIO Robin Bienfait said late Wednesday in a statement about the level of improvements in the outages. Bienfait had said email and BlackBerry Messenger traffic and Web browsing were "operating," but Lazarides said services were "restored full[y]" even though some customers might need to re-sync their devices by pulling out the battery and re-starting them. He said some email backlogs might continue.

Both officials admitted the cause of the core switch failure first reported on Tuesday is still unknown. Balsillie said it was some kind of "error" that caused the switch to fail, and said two backup switches didn't function properly in the failover routine. That switch in a data center in the U.K. caused Monday's problems in much of Europe, and parts of Asia and South America, RIM said.

Subsequently, users in North America and elsewhere saw delays and stoppages because of email and other messaging backlogs in a massive global system.

Both executives said they had been working around the clock with staff since the outages began Monday, but Lazaridis said he took some time to make a video apology Thursday morning once service began to return to normal.

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