BlackBerry outage hits businesses in the Emirates

Published October 13th, 2011 - 09:28 GMT
Downed BlackBerry services have impacted business people across the emirate
Downed BlackBerry services have impacted business people across the emirate

Downed BlackBerry services have impacted business people across the emirate, most notably those whose lives depend greatly on e-mails and bulletin board exchanges within the communications industry.

Consultants and public relations professionals send dozens of messages every day and getting business done without the help of the telecom pipeline through mobile smartphones such as BlackBerry can be downright taxing while on the fly.

The fact that BlackBerry services were disrupted on Monday, October 10 at 2pm in Dubai amid the largest technology show in the region, Gitex Technology Week, was cruel fate for many professionals conducting business, setting up meetings and exchanging critical documents.

Ali Rifaah, external communications manager for IBM Middle East and North Africa, said he has slogged it out without his BlackBerry. “It’s been very tough, especially when I have been so busy this week. I’ve made more phone calls. I’ve been forced to use my laptop,”


Rifaah said yesterday. “It’s been very disturbing. My BlackBerry has been such a useful tool so when it stops working you really do miss it.” “It has been a complete pain the last couple of days as I use my BlackBerry a lot for e-mailing clients and answering queries from overseas,” said Heath Andersen, director of building services at Ramboll Group, an engineering and design consultancy.

“I was out of the office all of yesterday morning so I had to spend a good few hours at my computer when I got back responding to all the e-mails in my inbox, which is something I normally do when I am stuck in traffic. “I would say e-mail accounts for about 80 per cent of my BlackBerry usage so this outage has been a hindrance. Some of our clients have been wondering why it has taken so long to answer their queries or get back to them,” he added.

“The current BlackBerry situation is a nuisance and the outages show just how much we take the device for granted,” said George Varghese, general manager of commercial operations at Rais Hassan Saadi Group, a shipping and freight related services firm.

€˜Withdrawal symptoms

“When the BlackBerry functions are not working, it sets off a chain reaction all over the place. However, it has been worse for those who frequently use the BlackBerry Messenger service; I think they are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. “I am not happy at the way the situation has been handled either. All we hear from [BlackBerry manufacturer] Research In Motion is that they are experiencing difficulties but we have not heard any real answers,” he added.

Hamza Salem, senior research analyst with IDC Middle East, Turkey and Africa, said doing business at Gitex this year has been more difficult without his trusty BlackBerry phone.

“The outage affected us on Monday afternoon and I haven’t been able to login in to the usual services. It’s made me realise how connected we were through these service and how I am helpless without it, as so many things are done now using it. I did get a few connected minutes in the last two and half days,” Salem said. He suggested as millions more join mobile online services weekly, pressures on mobile infrastructure could lead to more blackouts in future.

Never-ending expansion

“More people have started using the BB services and the discounted rates on the plans encourage the consumer to stream share videos and files, which is using up a lot of the bandwidth available. There is a never-ending expansion of servers and data storage which, according to RIM, has gone up to 22 Petabyte.

“Since such blackouts have never happened before, I am giving RIM the benefit of the doubt and I think they will be more prepared for such a scenario in the future,” he said.

Public relations professional Nerry Toledo has been trying to get her messages out for several days on behalf of a stable of clients but said its been difficult without her BlackBerry mobile services such as BlackBerry Messenger, e-mail and calendar. “This has been very hard for me the last few days. Communication is our tool, it’s our life,” Toledo said at Gitex at Dubai convention centre. “I haven’t been able to receive messages or e-mail for the last few days,” Toledo said. “It’s still not working.” Toledo said she has experienced other brief outages but not like this one.

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