CRTC orders Rogers to give ‘comprehensive explanation’ for outage by July 22

Click to play video: 'CRTC pushes Rogers for answers after national outage'
CRTC pushes Rogers for answers after national outage
WATCH: CRTC pushes Rogers for answers after national outage – Jul 12, 2022

Canada’s telecommunications regulator has ordered Rogers Communications Inc. to provide a “comprehensive explanation” about last Friday’s outage that saw millions without cellphone or internet service for nearly a full day.

Rogers has until July 22 to answer “detailed questions” from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) into the outage that also disrupted Interac payments, health care and emergencies services.

“The CRTC is requesting a detailed account from Rogers as to ‘why’ and ‘how’ this happened, as well as what measures Rogers is putting in place to prevent future outages,” said Ian Scott, chairperson and CEO of the CRTC, in a statement on Tuesday.

“We take the safety, security and wellness of Canadians very seriously and we are responsible for ensuring that Canadians have access at all times to a reliable and efficient communications system.”

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Rogers outage: Experts call telecom cooperation a ‘band-aid solution’

Friday’s outage has placed a spotlight on the vulnerability of Canada’s internet and cellphone network, which is dominated by Rogers, Bell and Telus.

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Technology and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said on Monday the CRTC will be holding an inquiry into the outage to find its root cause and how Canada’s telecom networks’ resilience can be improved. The CRTC said on Tuesday in its letter to Rogers that its request for detailed answers comes as it “considers the complaints and calls for a public inquiry before it.”

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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.

He also demanded the three major telcos enter into a formal agreement within 60 days of July 11.

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.

Click to play video: 'Industry minister, Rogers CEO meet due to outage'
Industry minister, Rogers CEO meet due to outage

He said all of the telecom companies he spoke to agreed to enter into such an arrangement.

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Rogers has said 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 will compensate customers on 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 Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri.

“Rogers has publicly attributed the cause of this service outage to a maintenance upgrade in its core network. This is reminiscent of another significant network outage in April 2021 that Rogers similarly attributed to a software update,” the CRTC said in its letter to Rogers.

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Rogers outage, rate hikes & recession fears

“Events of this magnitude paralysing sectors of our country’s economy and jeopardizing the safety of millions of Canadians for several hours or days are simply unacceptable, and telecommunications service providers such as Rogers should have mitigation strategies in place to address such possibilities.”

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In a statement sent to Global News, a Rogers spokesperson said the company is “wholly committed to working alongside the government and regulators to improve network resilience for all Canadians.”

“Rogers understands the frustration and disruption our network outage created for Canadians,” the statement read. “We deeply regret the significant impact it had on our customers, businesses large and small, and all Canadians who depend on our services.”

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The CRTC added its order is the “first step” in its response to the outage, adding it acknowledges the announcements made by Champagne on Monday.

“Once we are satisfied with Rogers’ response to our questions, we will determine what additional measures need to be taken,” Scott said.

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