Last Friday, more than 10 million Canadians across the country woke up to a nationwide Rogers network outage that left many without cell service, scrabbling for an internet connection and unable to make purchases with their bank cards.
“Puts us back in the dark ages basically,” Phil Strong, from the taxi service Yellow Cab in Edmonton told Global News.
“No one is carrying cash these days,” Marti Heersink from Masala in Ottawa told Global News.
The head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says some small businesses lost thousands of dollars Friday, as a result of the outage.
Dan Kelly says the outage was frustrating for small business owners who were unable to process online orders, use food delivery apps and even process debit or credit card transactions because Interac was using Rogers.
Kelly feels business owners should be given a free month of Rogers service to make up for the losses that came just as companies were trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Without being able to process credit or debit sales, POE Design, an eclectic gift shop in Port Perry, Ont., saw less than half of regular sales for a Friday during the summer during the outage.
“Our sales were diminished,” a spokesperson for the gift shop said to Global News.
Establishments like Starbucks quickly became flooded with patrons looking to stay for more than a cup of coffee.
Naomi Laserna, 26, from Whitby, Ont., requires an internet connection for both of her jobs as a streamer/gamer and at a Kumon Math and Reading Learning Centre for children.
To get connected, she drove to a nearby Starbucks, which also ironically happened to neighbour a Rogers store.
“It was just a massive group of people outside,” she told Global News, speaking about the crowd of people crowding the coffee shop.
She sat in a parking spot for two hours to work before returning home. She later went back to the establishment to continue using the internet for work.
“It just plain sucks. It was stressful,” she said. “Everything we do relies on the internet.”
Bob Pang, 21 has been working tirelessly to open an online fitness apparel shop, Shijia Fitness, dedicated to promoting an Asian presence in the industry. He said his store was unable to launch on time due to the outage.
“We have been trying to have this launch for quite a while and having a delay is really affecting our business,” Pang told Global News from Toronto. “It’s very annoying having to wait, having to put everything on hold because of something we can’t control.”
Tony Staffieri, president and CEO of Rogers Communications, said the outage was caused by a maintenance upgrade.
“We had a maintenance upgrade in our core network and that caused our routers to malfunction,” he said in an interview with Global News, noting the company has a team from around the world analyzing the outage.
“Those routers erroneously flooded the network with traffic and that’s what caused the network to be inoperable for our customers.”
Even large corporations like Walmart and McDonald’s were left without the ability to serve customers with debit.
In Niagara, Ont., oncology patients requiring radiation therapy had their appointments cancelled Friday as a result of the service disruption, the health system said online.
Any patients requiring emergency radiation were to be redirected to Hamilton Health Sciences, according to Niagara Health.
“Telecommunications are vitally important for Canadians in their day-to-day life. Whether that’s cell phones, internet, or even banking, we expect those services to meet the high standard that Canadians deserve,” said François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Sciences and Industry.
Champagne plans to meet with Rogers CEO Staffieri, among others, to discuss the importance of improving “the reliability of the networks across Canada.”
— With files from Global News’ Abigail Bimman and Brittany Rosen and The Canadian Press