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RIM blames technical problem for BlackBerry outage


OTTAWA — Research in Motion said that an unidentified technical problem cut off BlackBerry e-mail and other services to some of its customers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa for several hours Friday.

In a statement, Thorsten Heins, the president and chief executive of RIM, said customers lost access to e-mail and instant messages for up to three hours but added that those messages were ultimately delivered.

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Heins said the outage involved ‘‘up to 6 percent of our user base.’’ With RIM’s most recent estimate of 78 million BlackBerry users worldwide, that would mean about 4.7 million users were affected.

The company blamed that incident on the failure of a ‘‘core switch,’’ effectively a specialized computer in Slough, England, that links RIM’s unique global network to the Internet as well as to telephone company networks. The company said that a backup switch also failed.

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