Rogers outage exposes Canada’s reliance on telcos: ‘We don’t have many options’ – National

Friday’s Rogers network outage exposed Canada’s reliance on the telecoms industry, experts say, as over 10 million people across the country were left without service, struggling to make purchases and unable to connect their phones for nearly a full day use and access Wi-Fi.

“When you’re that close, it’s hard to understand how dependent you are,” Tyler Chamberlin, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management, told Global News.

“So it’s a big disruption to have knocked it out.”

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Canada’s industry minister meets with Rogers CEO after ‘unacceptable’ outage

Chamberlin was in Toronto during the outage and while shopping at the grocery store, heard frequent announcements that paying by direct debit at the checkout was not an option.

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“Store workers had to take back large shopping carts and restock shelves because people literally had to walk away,” he said.

“The fact that people actually walked away from their grocery store purchases is sad. That’s what I’m worried about.”

And since technology systems will always face inevitable failures, similar failures could likely occur in the future.

“The idea that we’re going to avoid that altogether is probably unrealistic in my opinion,” Chamberlin said.

“There is only a limited amount that can be done in relation to the actual installation of the Internet. We don’t have many options.”

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Rogers CEO apologizes, says ‘maintenance upgrade’ behind major outage

Rogers CEO apologizes, says ‘maintenance upgrade’ behind major outage

Beanfield, an independent fiber optic network operator, called the outage “a telecom operator’s nightmare,” but said it was an example of why there have long been concerns about the lack of competitors for Rogers, Telus and BCE.

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“A lack of competition and choice can result in a building containing a small town’s population going completely dark – cut off from all communication,” the company said on Twitter.

“If you can’t even get help from a neighbor, where do you go? How do you call 911?”

The business impact is also huge, the company added.

“The consequences of such a failure for the financial sector, the lack of functioning ATMs, of functioning bank branches, can be catastrophic,” it said.

“Not to mention the independent businesses across the country that don’t have the ability to process payments.”

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Rogers CEO apologizes, says ‘maintenance upgrade’ behind major outage

According to Chamberlin, the challenge of having only a limited number of providers is not unique to Canada.

“The federal government has relaxed rules on foreign players in the telecoms industry, but you don’t see them coming in. That’s partly because it would be very difficult to start from scratch, and you have to pull all those people out of the industry with existing vendors,” he said.

“You have to get them to give up on Rogers and Bell.”

And as for the future of the telecoms industry in Canada, Chamberlin doesn’t anticipate major changes.

“I think it’s been many years since the time for the big structuring of the industry,” he said.

“They are in a situation now where it will be very difficult to change that.”

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Canadians outraged by Rogers failure

Canadians outraged by Rogers failure

To be prepared for another nationwide outage, Chamberlin shares tips for Canadians to follow.

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Diversifying your service providers is an option, although it has its downsides.

“People tend not to do that because it’s usually an advantage for them to pool their services,” Chamberlin said.

“But if you’re thinking about these things and worrying about them, that’s one thing you could possibly do to make sure you have different networks that you can access.”

Chamberlin also suggested that cash be held where possible in case a disruption again causes payment systems to fail.

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BC tech expert comments on Rogers’ outage

“We take it for granted and have for such a long time, but one of the beautiful things about Canadian currency is that it can be used digitally but also has a physical form,” he said.

This is also another reason why Canadians should be “skeptical” about cryptocurrencies, according to Chamberlin.

“Technical systems, even large, expensive technical systems, fail. Better hope your network never goes down. The fact that you can’t access physical money — it doesn’t exist that way,” he said.

Rogers Communications President and Chief Executive Tony Staffieri said the outage was caused by a maintenance upgrade.

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“We had a maintenance upgrade on our core network that caused our routers to malfunction,” he said in an interview with Global News, noting that the company has a team from around the world analyzing the outage.

“These routers were mistakenly flooding the network with traffic, and that caused the network to become inoperable for our customers.”

Canadian politicians, including François-Philippe Champagne, Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry, have publicly commented on the outage.

“Spoke to the CEO of Rogers. I shared with him the frustrations of millions of Canadians,” he said online on Friday.

“This unacceptable situation is why quality, diversity and reliability are critical in our telecommunications network.”

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Champagne said he plans to meet with Rogers’ CEO, among others, to discuss the importance of improving networks across the country.

— with Canadian Press files

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc. Rogers outage exposes Canada’s reliance on telcos: ‘We don’t have many options’ – National


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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