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Not RIM’s fault this time: Router error downs BlackBerry services for Vodafone EMEA users

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UPDATED: Vodafone(s vod) really doesn’t seem to have much luck with BlackBerry services in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. After an outage as recently as September – which Vodafone lost no time in revealing was RIM’s(s rimm) fault – today there has been another, but the tables are reversed.

This time, with emails and instant messaging suffering for an unconfirmed number of Vodafone-using customers in the EMEA region, Research In Motion’s UK Twitter account was quick to point the finger at the carrier:

Vodafone’s EMEA operations cover 15 European countries, several Gulf states and a couple of African countries. According to The Wall Street Journal, the outage lasted five hours.

After releasing an anodyne “we are aware of issues” statement earlier in the day, Vodafone came back a few minutes ago with a fuller explanation:

“Vodafone can confirm that some BlackBerry customers experienced issues with their data services this morning in Europe, Middle East and Africa. The issue was caused by a router error.

“Services are in the process of being restored and we continue to monitor the situation closely. We apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused and we will provide updates as necessary.”

That September outage had misfortunate timing, taking place on the day that the iPhone 5 went on sale in Europe – already stung by the catastrophic downtime of 2011, it’s safe to say that a few BlackBerry stalwarts gave up defending their chosen smartphone platform on that occasion.

This time, the outage comes just a few weeks before RIM is due to launch its first BlackBerry 10 handsets. That platform is make-or-break for RIM, so the company must be relieved that its EMEA customers can vent their anger at Vodafone instead.

UPDATE: Vodafone has come back to me with a couple more details. Firstly, the outage hit some, not all, of its BlackBerry-toting customers in the EMEA region. Secondly, it affected their BlackBerry services usage over both cellular and Wi-Fi connections.