Sidekick Users Suffer Service Outage

Users of T-Mobile’s Sidekick devices experienced a “degradation of service” yesterday that prevented them from using e-mail, instant messaging and other data services.

Creator of the Sidekick devices Danger Inc., which also provides Sidekick services on behalf of T-Mobile, posted a notice on its user forum, “This morning some users may experience degradation in service (e.g., connection and e-mail delay) which is currently being resolved by Danger engineers. There is no need to call your wireless carrier.”

Danger and T-Mobile executives were not immediately available for comment. Service is reportedly available for many users today, though as of yet the problem has not been fully resolved.

Ongoing Problems

Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld this not the first time Danger and T-Mobile have experienced performance issues. In a high-profile case last month, online thieves stole addresses, e-mail and images from the Sidekick of celebrity heiress Paris Hilton. The cause of the latest outage remains unknown.

Enderle suggested that data services are still relatively new for cellular carriers; thus much room for improvement exists when it comes to performance and security for these types of offerings.

“Data is new to cellular carriers,” Enderle said. “They are still trying to work through the balance between cost and meeting customer expectations. Hitting the kind of performance guarantees that e-mail users require is turning out to be fairly expensive and complex.”

Behind the Curve

T-Mobile is the most aggressive cellular carrier in terms of pricing, Enderle added, but is a bit behind the curve in terms of coverage and technology. Sprint and Verizon are both using 1Xrtt network technology, which, he said, is superior to T-Mobile’s network.

“T-Mobile will eventually go to the EDGE cellular network, as will Cingular-ATT,” Enderle said. “Once they move to EDGE, which is the next big step, then a lot of these issues should clear up. But it’s going to take a number of years to deploy the new EDGE networks.”

That may not be soon enough for some customers.

“I’m going on 48 hours downtime,” said one customer in a post to the forum. “I use this device as a primary mail client. Not having it is killing me. I pay for QoS [quality of service], and expect it.”

“As for Danger … they seriously need to get their act together,” stated another customer on the Hiptop forum. “I understand an outage lasting a couple hours, but an outage lasting longer than 24 hours is completely unacceptable.”

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