Rogers outage: CRTC to investigate ‘root cause’ of network failure

Click to play video: 'Industry minister, Rogers CEO meet due to outage'
Industry minister, Rogers CEO meet due to outage
WATCH: Industry minister, Rogers CEO meet due to outage – Jul 11, 2022

Canada’s telecom regulator will review the Rogers Communications outage that left customers and businesses without cellphone or internet service for hours on Friday.

Technology and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Monday that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will be holding an inquiry into the outage to find its root cause and how Canada’s telecom networks’ resilience can be improved.

Champagne said Rogers will co-operate with the inquiry because it is in the “national interest,” and a report will be drawn with additional steps to be taken to improve resiliency.

“You have to understand the nature of the problem before coming to any solution,” he said. “That is the next logical step.”

CRTC told Global News on Monday that “it supports the minister’s announcement made today” and “will have more to say on the matter” on Tuesday.

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Champagne also said that he demanded Canada’s telecom companies enter a formal agreement within 60-days of Monday to take initial steps to improve resiliency. The agreement would require them to explore how to implement emergency roaming if their networks go down again to allow emergency services to keep operating by using other providers, as well as a communication protocol to better inform the public and authorities, and to provide mutual assistance during outages.

He said the agreement is similar to what the U.S.’s Federal Communication Commission (FCC) did on July 6 to improve network resiliency during disasters. Both the Conservatives and NDP had called on the Liberal government to investigate the Rogers outage to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Click to play video: 'Friday’s Rogers outage sparks emergency meeting with Canadian industry minister'
Friday’s Rogers outage sparks emergency meeting with Canadian industry minister

Champagne told Global News’ Abigail Bimman on Monday that Bell and Telus were willing to help Rogers during its outage, but the government wants that “codified” so there will be a clear protocol if such a failure happens again. He said that all of the telecom companies he spoke to agreed to enter into such an arrangement.

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Yet he also admitted that because Friday’s outage was an internal Rogers issue, there was nothing the other telecom giants could actually do in the moment to help — bringing into question whether mutual assistance would be useful in all cases.

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Champagne made Monday’s announcements at a news conference after a call with Canada’s telecoms, including Rogers, Bell and Telus, that lasted for close to an hour. During the call, Champagne said he expressed frustrations that services were down and that he expects customers to be proactively compensated.

Click to play video: 'Rogers outage spawns lawsuit, questions about compensation, competition'
Rogers outage spawns lawsuit, questions about compensation, competition

Champagne said he told the Canadian executives that the recent outage was “unacceptable — full stop.”

The outage began early Friday morning and lasted nearly 15 hours, affecting Canadians working from home but also Interac payments, health care and law enforcement. Some regions are still reporting outages.

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Rogers has said that the outage was due to a network system failure after a maintenance outage and that the “vast majority” of customers are back online. The company said it will compensate customers in their next bill for the outage and the amount will be determined on a “pro-rated basis based on the duration of the outage,” according to CEO Tony Staffieri.

The company’s stock dropped around 4.6 per cent Monday as trade resumed.

Nevertheless, the outage has placed a spotlight on the vulnerability of Canada’s internet and cellphone network, which is dominated by three major players. There is also speculation the outage may affect Rogers’ chances of securing its proposed merger with Shaw Communications, a move that would further reduce the number of telecom companies in the country.

Click to play video: 'Rogers fallout after major internet outage'
Rogers fallout after major internet outage

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