Rogers says wireless services restored for ‘vast majority’ as mass outage drags on

Click to play video: '‘It’s a hot mess’: Rogers nationwide network outage leaves Canadians frustrated'
‘It’s a hot mess’: Rogers nationwide network outage leaves Canadians frustrated
"It's a hot mess": Rogers nationwide network outage leaves Canadians frustrated – Jul 8, 2022

A serious network outage at Rogers has impacted cellular and internet services across the country, bringing major sectors from banking to government services to a halt — but now, the company says the issue is almost resolved.

Rogers didn’t acknowledge the issue until just before 9 a.m. ET on Friday morning, leaving users in the dark for hours about when they might be able to use their devices again.

Almost a full day later, at 7 a.m. ET on Saturday, a spokesperson confirmed to Global News that wireless services have been “restored” for “the vast majority” of Rogers customers, and said technical teams were working to get everyone else back online “as quickly as possible.”

“As our services come back online and traffic volumes return to normal, some customers may experience a delay in regaining full service,” the spokesperson added.

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No estimated time was given for when that might be achieved, and some users appeared to still be without services on Saturday morning.

President and CEO Tony Staffieri said in a statement Friday night that the company was working to fully understand the root cause, and committed to making necessary changes to prevent future outages.

He also promised customers would be proactively compensated for the impact they suffered, with details to be shared “shortly.”

The company’s statement Saturday morning said the company “will be proactively crediting all customers,” but offered no elaboration on what the credit will look like.

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Little information was given throughout the day about what may be causing the outage or what the solution might be. Statements the company did provide acknowledged the impact on millions of Canadians.

“We know how much you rely on our networks. Today we have let you down,” the company said in a tweet around 3 p.m. ET.

Rogers is Canada’s largest wireless provider, with roughly 11.3 million subscribers across the country, according to the company.

Click to play video: 'A day of frustration for millions of Canadians following a nation-wide network outage at Rogers Communications'
A day of frustration for millions of Canadians following a nation-wide network outage at Rogers Communications

The Communications Security Establishment confirmed to Global News that their Centre for Cyber Security “has been in contact with Rogers” and “offered assistance, in the event they should need it.”

A spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino’s office confirmed to Global News the outage was not caused by a cyberattack.

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Meanwhile, reports of the outage have piled up on an outage tracker webpage — with complaints coming from coast to coast.

More than 20,500 Rogers users in Toronto alone have submitted complaints, as well as thousands in Montréal, Brampton, and Ottawa. Hundreds of users everywhere from Halifax, N.S., to Vancouver, B.C., have also reported issues.

Click to play video: 'Rogers network down across much of Toronto and parts of Canada'
Rogers network down across much of Toronto and parts of Canada

As the outage dragged on, Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne took to Twitter to reassure Canadians that the government “is aware of the current Rogers outage” and “has been in contact with the company.”

“We expressed how important it is that this matter be resolved as soon as possible and for the company to provide prompt and clear communication directly to those impacted,” he wrote.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and use any tools at our disposal to ensure Canadians stay connected and that the company meets the high standards Canadians deserve.”

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Champagne later said he had spoken to Staffieri to share “the frustration of millions of Canadians.” He said he also spoke to the heads of Bell and Telus.

“This unacceptable situation is why quality, diversity and reliability are key to our telecom network,” he said.

The outage comes as the Competition Bureau fights against Rogers’ planned acquisition of Shaw Communications, which would further Rogers’ dominance in the country. The bureau fears the merger would prevent a reliable fourth carrier from breaking through the monopoly created by Rogers and fellow giants Bell and Telus.

When the outage began Friday, Rogers, Shaw and the Competition Bureau had just wrapped a two-day mediation period that ended with no resolution.

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“The outage is illuminating the general lack of competition in telecommunications in Canada,” Vass Bednar, executive director of McMaster University’s master of public policy program, told the Canadian Press.

Police, airport, entertainment services all impacted

The outage reportedly impacted ATMs and Interac machines across the country, according to reports on social media.

Interac confirmed services became fully available again as of 10 a.m. ET on Saturday.

Scotiabank, CIBC, Bank of Montreal, TD Bank and RBC all reported interruptions to various services because of the outage.

Ottawa International Airport said debit and credit payments were unavailable at stores or restaurants within the terminal. Toronto Pearson said some concessions were having trouble with debit purchases but were still able to process credit cards.

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Toronto Police Operations acknowledged the ongoing issue in a tweet, noting that some people are struggling to call 911 due to the outage.

The Ottawa Police issued a similar warning, urging residents whose 911 calls fail to try again, to call from a “landline” or to try a “cell phone with another provider.”

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The outage also impacted the entertainment world. A Toronto tour stop for The Weeknd was postponed, with Rogers Centre saying its operations were offline. Other concert venues urged concertgoers to print their tickets at home.

One in ten Canadian employees are still working from home, according to a July 1 poll from Ipsos conducted exclusively for Global News — which means a number of workers were left scrambling as they tried to log into their laptops this morning.

As a result, coffee shops with working Wi-Fi saw a flood of internet-hungry customers flood their businesses.

“Welcome to the jungle,” a Starbucks barista told Global News’ Colin D’Mello as he walked through the coffee shop this morning.

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Service Canada also reported issues as a result of the Rogers outage, warning Canadians that the technical problem is affecting “some call centres and offices, including passport offices.”

It’s the latest issue for the problem-plagued passport service. Unprecedented demand for Canadian passports has led to delays in processing times, putting eager travellers in limbo ahead of the summer travel season.

For weeks, many Canadians have been seen waiting in lines outside Service Canada offices to get their much-needed travel documents.

Another government service facing problems as a result of the outage is the ArriveCAN app. The Canada Border Services Agency warned on Friday that some travellers won’t be able to submit their information to the already-unpopular mandatory application — and they’ll have to fill out a separate form before they arrive at the border.

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A bail hearing in Montreal for disgraced fashion designer Peter Nygard on sex-related charges was postponed, with prosecutors saying the outage made it impossible to videoconference with Nygard, who is detained in Toronto.

Meanwhile, in the face of the frustrating outage, many Canadians have taken to social media to express their annoyance — and to poke fun at the situation.

One user asked if “anyone else” was “relieved to find out that it’s a nationwide outage and that it wasn’t just you forgetting to pay your bills.”

Another Twitter account joked that Rogers customers get an “unplanned long weekend” while Bell customers have to “get to work.”

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The satirical publication The Beaverton joked that “Rogers offers Canada’s fastest, most reliable outages across the country.”

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The last major Rogers outage took place in April of 2021, when massive nationwide wireless issues left millions without voice calls, texting and data service for several hours.

The telecom giant said the root cause of the intermittent wireless service was a software update by its network partner Ericsson.

Reports of that outage began early in the morning. Services didn’t come back online until the evening, with some services still coming back online after 11 p.m. ET.

This time around, however, Rogers has yet to explain the cause — or provide a timeline for when Canadians can expect the issue to be resolved.

With files from the Canadian Press

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