Research in Motion, the company behind BlackBerry, restored service Thursday after the longest disruption since the device was launched, leaving millions of users all around the world frustrated. Although emails were delayed for several hours, federal agencies took the technological glitch in stride, sending out notifications about the widespread level of the outages.
The General Services Administration reported a slowdown in replying to email, but the agency adjusted and worked around it, while a State Department spokesman told National Journal that the outage did not affect the work of the agency.
The situation could have a lasting impact on RIM's position as the government's top provider of smartphones.
According to government adviser Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting, the outage may lead some agency officials to question the reliability and security of BlackBerrys. Many defense and law enforcement agencies have already begun testing out iPhone and Android devices.
"I think it will accelerate the shift to other devices and the opening up of competition in the federal space," Suss says.
Currently there are no major investigations into the situation, and a Federal Communications Commission spokesman says the agency is pleased service has been restored.
RIM executives say the disruption resulted from the failure of switching hardware within the operating network and a subsequent failure of the backup system.
Suss speculates, however, that many federal decision-makers question whether it was a mishandled software upgrade or a successful denial-of-service attack that caused the outage.
"There's a lot of skepticism in the community," Suss says.
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