Telecom giant Rogers says wireless calls, SMS and data services have been restored for “a vast majority of our customers” after a mass outage that lasted several hours on Monday.
“A small number of services with other carriers are continuing to come back online,” the company said in a tweet just after 11 p.m. ET.
“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this outage has called and thank you for your patience.”
Earlier on Monday, the company said a recent software update is to blame for the service interruption.
The outages began early Monday morning, leaving its customers without voice calls, SMS and data services. The outage reports are largely stemming from Ontario, but it’s also impacting provinces from B.C to Prince Edward Island.
“We have identified the root cause of the service issues and pinpointed a recent Ericsson software update that affected a piece of equipment in the central part of our wireless network,” Jorge Fernandes, chief technology officer at Rogers, said in a statement published online.
“That led to intermittent congestion and service impacts for many customers across the country.”
Fernandes apologized for the service interruptions, calling them “unacceptable.” He said the telecommunication company’s software engineering and technical teams are addressing the issue, and will “continue to work around the clock with the Ericsson team to restore full services for our customers.”
Rogers provides both postpaid and prepaid wireless services to about 10.9 million consumer and business subscribers in the Canadian wireless market.
Global News asked Rogers to confirm how many of its customers were affected by the outages, but did not immediately hear back.
“We know how important it is to stay connected and are working hard to restore services for customers who are experiencing interruptions with wireless voice and data – residential and business wireline internet services are not impacted,” the telecommunications giant said in an earlier emailed statement to Global News.
TV, home and business wireline Internet, and home phone services were not impacted by the outages.
The communications company said the outage also affected Fido customers. A spokesperson from Bell Media said there were “no significant issues” with any of its networks.
During the outage, some police in Ontario issued a warning saying if people call 911 they should not hang up because their communicators cannot call back.
Winnipeg and Peel Regional police said that Rogers and Fido customers experiencing Canada-wide outages would still be able to call 911 but must remain on the line to speak with an operator.
The service disruption also impacted Canadians’ ability to make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, according to reports on Twitter.
“Perfect timing for a @Rogers outage, while I’m trying to book a Covid vaccine. I’ve already lost one appointment when the call dropped, and I’m not receiving the text codes to confirm online registration,” Twitter user Natasha Gauthier posted midday Monday.
“I need a text confirmation to book an appointment for my vaccine but I can’t get that because Rogers is down. And there’s zero ETA when they’ll restore my service,” another Twitter user posted.
“Tough to book a vaccine appointment when @ShoppersDrugMart needs to send a verification PIN via text to confirm, and @Rogers network is down!” Twitter user Jeff Duggan wrote.
Brett Caraway, an associate professor of media law at the University of Toronto, said the outage likely had a “significant” impact on Canada’s economy.
“It’s really hard for me to get my head around just how big of an economic impact is going on,” he told Global News, listing everything from ecommerce to customer service to marketing as potential victims.
“The implications here are significant for both customers … but also business-to-business transaction,” he said.
Caraway said some businesses could see ripple effects that will take some time to fully resolve.
Larger businesses whose employees rely on calls or texts to their managers to provide updates on deliveries or orders met, for example, will have to play catch-up and spend time recording past transactions, he said.
“If they didn’t have access to that today, I don’t know what their business looked like,” he said. “Someone’s going to have to do some database entry tomorrow to make sure everything is accounted for.”
The outage also felt more dire amid the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns, Caraway said.
Beyond the economic impact, he said issues of public safety likely also resulted from the outage as people struggle to connect to police services and other technologies like navigation.
“This really bad timing,” he said. “We really rely on these technologies to stay connected and we feel it when they’re not working. So I feel like everybody is super sensitive to this sort of service outage right now.”
— with files from Global News’s Hannah Jackson and the Canadian Press