Nightly News   |  October 12, 2011

BlackBerry outage frustrates users

Millions of Americans who rely on BlackBerry smartphones had a frustrating day, unable to get e-mails or wireless internet connections. What began a few days ago as a service disruption overseas, spread Wednesday to North America. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: If you are a fellow user or you live with one, then you already know this next story, and maybe it ruled your life today. BlackBerrys went down. With a few exceptions, the whole system crashed along with all of those addicted to them. We learned just this week, by the way, there are now more wireless accounts than there are people in the United States . So an outage like this feels more like an outrage to customers. NBC 's Tom Costello reports tonight on what's going on with BlackBerry .

TOM COSTELLO reporting: From coast to coast a day of aggravation and frustration for BlackBerry users. From air travelers in LA. ..

Unidentified Man #1: So phone calls worked, text messages worked, but no emails.

COSTELLO: New York's Rockefeller Plaza ...

Unidentified Man #2: I couldn't use it for a couple of hours. I really wasn't too happy with the service.

Unidentified Man #3: Well, you know, if you can't count on it, because I need a business tool that I can count on.

COSTELLO: the halls of Congress and a mom in Atlanta who missed a kid's activity today.

Unidentified Woman #1: I don't have time to go home and check my email.

COSTELLO: BlackBerry 's most serious disruption in years began overseas on Monday when a router switch failed, then a backup system crashed.

Unidentified Woman #2: I have had no communication or emails for two days.

COSTELLO: The company insists it wasn't hacked and the problem is fixed, but the data traffic jam is massive.

Mr. JOHN ABELL (Wired Magazine): The backlog of messages, the things -- the traffic that they missed is making the system go down in bits and pieces as well, and apparently that's the reason why it spread to the United States today, or last night.

COSTELLO: The timing of this could not be worse with BlackBerry in an all-out fight with its iPhone and Android competitors. Just today iPhone released a new instant messaging system . Seventy million customers worldwide rely on BlackBerry 's record of reliability from executives to families, emergency workers to the White House press corps , even President Obama . But in the last year the company's stock has fallen 65 percent.

JON FORTT reporting: Wall Street just doesn't believe in the growth story here. They don't believe that the management of RIM has a handle on the future and will continue to grow.

COSTELLO: Tonight as BlackBerry struggles to resume normal operations, it's also under enormous pressure to prove it hasn't lost its touch. Tom Costello, NBC News, Washington.