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BlackBerry service back after outage

Mobile e-mail senders and recipients were left incommunicado for hours Tuesday and yesterday when Research in Motion sustained an outage. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

NEW YORK -- Most of it happened outside "work" hours, but the interruption of mobile e-mail meant plenty of dismay as BlackBerry service went down across North America from Tuesday evening to yesterday morning.

By the time the service sputtered back to life, jamming the handheld devices with a torrent of delayed messages, grumbles had been heard from the Canadian Parliament to the executive suite at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

"We all lost our data when we were in the House of Commons last night. The sound of BlackBerrys being thrown against the desk was deafening for a while," said Garth Turner, a Liberal Member of Parliament known for his constant Internet blogging.

"Because it has become the de facto channel of communications around this place, it actually impacts on the government of Canada and the work of the whole House of Commons."

Research in Motion Ltd., the Canadian company that provides the devices and e-mail service, confirmed the outage yesterday morning, but disclosed no details about the cause.

The outage cut off incoming and outgoing e-mail on BlackBerry devices regardless of which cellular company a user buys the service from, indicating the problem originated at RIM's network data center in Canada.

That facility serves as a hub for RIM's North American traffic, routing messages among the roughly 8 million BlackBerry devices now in use and the various sources of e-mail, from private corporate servers to Web-based accounts like Yahoo and AOL.

The outage reverberated on Wall Street, too. RIM's share price slid at yesterday's open, but recovered and rallied -- suggesting, perhaps, that a product that can provoke this much consternation holds an enviable position against emerging challenges from the likes of Microsoft Corp., Motorola Inc., and Nokia Corp.