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Tuesday, July 22, 2008, 02:40 pm PT (05:40 pm ET)

Server, connectivity problems add to Apple's MobileMe woes [u]

A mail server crash and unexpected fiber-optic line problems are the latest in a long string of hiccups that have soured the launch of Apple's new MobileMe internet service and recently left some subscribers without email access for as many as five straight days.

Apple's support forums are rife with complaints from affected users, many of which are just as frustrated with the company's poor communication over the matter as they are with the service outage itself. Several also doubt an official assessment of the scope of the problem posted to the MobileMe support site, which states that only 1 percent of subscribers have lost access to their email.

"I know at least 10 people with MobileMe and all of them have not had access to MobileMe mail since last Thursday or Friday, including me," one subscriber told AppleInsider. "Now either it's just a coincidence that everyone I know is in the 1 percent, or Apple is flat out lying."

Subscribers aren't the only ones troubled by a lack of information. Apple's support representatives have also found the MobileMe launch to be a burden due to a lack of communication from higher-ups.

"The MobileMe transition has been pretty rough on us as well, mainly because Apple isn't telling us much of anything either," one AppleCare tech support agent explained. The agent added that a rare memo was issued to some AppleCare support teams earlier this morning.

In the memo, Apple reportedly noted two separate issues, only one of which was identified.  That issue, which has since been resolved, is said to have affected "all customers" as a result of an inadvertent fiber-optic cable cut during a previously scheduled maintenance procedure. The other, Apple said, "is affecting less than 1 percent of customers."

Although Apple stopped short of detailing the second issue, some subscribers were successful in receiving an explanation from the company's online support chat before it was overwhelmed with requests and taken offline.

"The server that supplies the mail for your account ran into issues on Friday," a support representative by the name of Lisa told one subscriber. "A repair was attempted but the issue became worse. The engineers are attempting to bring the server back online without losing any of your data."

Another subscriber that has been unable to access her email since Friday was offered a similar response from an Apple representative named Craig in the company's online support chat.

"Unfortunately, after reviewing your account, it looks like your account is part of a small group of customers experiencing a temporary  outage in mail service with MobileMe," he said. "I know it's been a few days and it is frustrating. I'm in the same boat as you, my mail hasn't been up for four days either."

When pressed for more details, Craig would only say that "Apple is working hard and has made this issue their number one priority. [...] We are experiencing a temporary issue with one of our mail servers. I'm sorry that is affecting you as well. I know how frustrating it is to be without mail."

Update: Apple is now confirming a "serious issue with one of" its MobileMe mail servers in a support document.

"This issue is currently affecting approximately 1% of MobileMe members. Affected members are unable to send or receive email at www.me.com or access email using any email client software such as Mail on a Mac or Microsoft Outlook on a PC," the company said. "We understand this is a serious issue and apologize for this service interruption. We are working hard to restore your service."