Industry minister to meet Rogers CEO after ‘unacceptable’ network outage

Canada’s industry minister will convene a meeting with the head of Rogers Communications following a massive outage that crippled the company’s network and hampered several crucial services, his office said on Sunday, even as some customers continued to report service outages.

A statement released by François-Philippe Champagne’s office says he plans to meet with Tony Staffieri and other telecommunications executives to discuss the importance of improving « network reliability across Canada. »

The statement said Champagne found last week’s widespread disruption of services – which lasted at least 15 hours and cut off access to many law enforcement, healthcare and banking services – » unacceptable, » adding that he expressed that view directly to Staffieri.

« These services are vitally important to Canadians in their daily lives and we expect our telecommunications industry to meet the highest standards that Canadians rightly deserve, » the statement said.

Staffieri released a statement on Saturday attributing Friday’s widespread outage to a network system failure following a maintenance update, adding that the « vast majority » of customers were back online.

Meanwhile, a consumer group has formally asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to hold an investigation into the outage.

Public Interest Advocacy Center executive director John Lawford said the CRTC would be able to obtain information and documents from Rogers that the public could not access and make recommendations to Rogers on how to prevent future failures.

WATCH | Consumer group calls for telecom watchdog to investigate Rogers outage:

Consumer group calls on telecoms watchdog to investigate Rogers outage

John Lawford, executive director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, has called on the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to investigate the nationwide Rogers outage and establish new rules for all telecommunications providers.

« What’s happening during seemingly routine maintenance makes this very suspicious, because you’d want to hope they would do their maintenance in a way that wouldn’t endanger the entire network, » Lawford told CBC News Network. sunday.

His organization also asked the CRTC to consider new regulatory responsibilities for all telecommunications providers regarding their communications with customers, compensation requirements and maintaining access to the 911 system in the event of an outage.

« Wouldn’t it be great if companies, at the end of this, got a roadmap from the CRTC that said if you have an outage, you’re allowed to borrow some capacity from another network to keep going essential services during your outage? » Lawford said.

Ongoing disruptions

Many customers continued to report service outages through Sunday, including Courtice, Ont., resident Paul Platt, who said his home wireless network was only restored after more than 48 hours.

Platt said many devices in his home, including some lights, locks and smoke detectors, rely on an internet connection to work.

« Nothing was working at all in my house, » he said.

Platt said he checked on his elderly neighbors – one with Parkinson’s disease and the other who had recently had heart surgery – every few hours over the weekend, noting that they also relied on the Rogers service and could not call 911 if necessary.

« That’s where it’s wrong, » he said.

Platt said he repeatedly tried to contact Rogers through helplines and social media, but was unable to reach any staff.

WATCH | Rogers responds to a massive network disruption:
rogers apology.jpg?crop=1

Rogers CEO apologizes for massive service outage, blames maintenance update

Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri has apologized for a lengthy network outage that affected customers across the country and blamed it on a network system failure following a maintenance update in its main network.

He said he was frustrated with both Rogers’ lack of communication for customers still affected by the outages and Staffieri’s statement on Saturday in which he said the company’s network and systems were » almost fully operational ».

« That’s the most frustrating thing for me, » Platt said, adding that he’s worked in IT his whole life. « I understand that things happen, I understand that they are very complicated. But there is simply no feedback to customers and…no support available for customers who are still having problems. »

Rogers declined to comment on the ongoing outages when asked by The Canadian Press, but did refer to Staffieri’s earlier statement in which he said technical teams were continuing to monitor « any remaining intermittent issues. »

anthony staffieri
In a statement Saturday, Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri, featured in New York in 2017, attributed Friday’s widespread outage to a network system failure following a maintenance update. The statement said the « vast majority » of customers were back online, but many reported service disruptions on Sunday. (Misha Friedman/Bloomberg)

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ongoing meeting with Champagne.

Downdetector, a website that tracks outages, showed the number of people reporting problems with Rogers’ service was significantly higher than usual on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

There were more than 2,200 outage reports at the site as of 5 p.m. Saturday, up significantly from the baseline of 38 usually seen at the site at that time. Sunday morning newspapers showed 1,479 reports at 8:30 a.m., down from 18 at the start.

Montreal, Toronto and the neighboring city of Mississauga, Ontario, as well as the Ontario cities of London and Kitchener, were among those with the most reports on the website, with the majority of reports related to problems with the Fixed Internet from Rogers.


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