Is The Planned Blackberry Blackout On Sunday "Routine Maintenance"?

Blackberry subscribers on some Indian wireless operators such as AirTel & Vodafone, received notifications today from their providers’ corporate services departments informing them that Blackberry services would be unavailable on Sunday morning between 0730h and 1130h.

While RIM declined to comment, some of the operators we contacted, said it was “routine maintenance.”

Vodafone’s technical helpdesk said that it was an annual maintenance operation, originally scheduled for January which got shifted to March. A representative said that RIM chose the time after conducting a survey and determining the lowest email period.

A spokesperson for Airtel said that RIM had informed them it was routine outage, involving other parts of South East Asia apart from India. She further added that AirTel did not expect the actual outage period to last more than an hour.

A senior tech executive at Reliance Communications said that the company was earlier intimated about an outage and that they had informed their subscribers that Blackberry services would be unavailable on Sunday morning between 0730h and 1130h.

While it’s highly likely that this is indeed a normal infrastructure upgrade drill, the recent government threat to blackout the service adds a twist to the tale. Telecom Secretary S Behura, yesterday said that there was no question of a ban , though some of the “solutions” being discussed such as deployment of “mirror servers” are already raising eyebrows.

Moreover, today’s Business Standard reports :

DoT, however, pointed out that due to home ministry objections it had already informed all operators to stop Blackberry services by the end of December. However, responding to requests, operators were given a three-month extension, which ends in March.

The conflicting reports from operators and RIM’s silence seems to suggest that there could be more to this “routine maintenance” than meets the eye.

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