Rogers system outage occurred after mainnet maintenance update: CEO

The Rogers Communications Building at 333 Bloor Street East in Toronto on March 15, 2021 March 15, 2021 (Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail)Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

Rogers Communications Inc. says it believes the massive system outage it suffered Friday happened after a maintenance update to its mainnet, but critics aren’t impressed with the explanation after the second major telecommunications outage in two years.

In a statement on Saturday, the company’s president and CEO, Tony Staffieri, said the system failure caused Rogers’ routers to malfunction. He added that the company’s systems are now “almost fully operational”.

The widespread outages have left thousands of Rogers customers across the country without internet, wireless and home phone service. Many were unable to call 911 or make purchases with debit or credit cards. Hospitals, public transport, border crossings and countless other public and private services have been disrupted.

“We know how much our customers rely on our networks and I sincerely apologize,” Mr. Staffieri said.

“We are particularly troubled by the fact that some customers have been unable to reach emergency services and we are treating the issue as an urgent priority.”

Mr. Staffieri added that the company will perform a root cause analysis to determine exactly what went wrong and make the necessary changes to its network.

The failure of the Rogers system underscored how dependent businesses and individuals have become on internet and telephone services. And it highlighted the company’s ubiquity in Canada at a time when attempting to convince federal regulators that its proposed $26 billion takeover of Shaw Communications Inc. will not harm consumers by reducing competition in the telecommunications industry.

John Lawford, executive director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, a consumer advocacy organisation, said a major breakdown should not have happened following routine maintenance.

“I would expect some level of disaster control for routine maintenance, so you don’t put the whole system on the line of fire,” Mr Lawford said, noting that Rogers experienced an outage. similar across Canada in April 2021. At that time, only the company’s wireless clients were affected.

“I don’t think, having had something similar a year ago, that it’s acceptable for an outage to happen again on this scale.”

People across the country were demanding better reliability from Rogers, including Lara Morgan, who described a frantic scene when she tried to call 911 after her 15-year-old son was injured in a football game. rugby Friday in Markham, Ont.

Ms Morgan said staff at the scene were concerned her son had suffered a spinal injury. She had to run into the field to find someone who had a non-Rogers phone so she could use it to call an ambulance.

But then he was told paramedics were also affected by the outage, as their communication and tracking system relied on a Rogers connection. This meant that dispatchers had to manually direct ambulances. She said she had no choice but to wait by the side of a road, unsure how long it would take emergency responders to arrive, while on-site staff tried to keep the his son’s head stable.

Ms Morgan eventually learned that her son had not suffered a spinal injury, but had suffered a concussion. When they arrived at the hospital, she was unable to contact her husband and tell him where they were. He too had a Rogers cell phone.

“I’m super disappointed with Rogers…it was terrifying,” Ms. Morgan said.

Healthcare workers have faced labor disruptions. Among them was Andrew Shepherd, a registered nurse who works at a Quinte Health Care hospital near Hastings, Ont.

When one of Mr Shepherd’s patients had a seizure early Friday morning, he tried to call a doctor. Due to the outage, there was no response. Fortunately, he said, the patient’s seizure was mild. “What if something catastrophic happened and we couldn’t reach that doctor?” he asks himself now.

Hours later, he said, the hospital began using loudspeakers to call doctors.

At 7:30 p.m., when Mr Shepherd returned to work for his night shift, he was called to the emergency department to attend to a patient believed to have a stroke. The patient told her she came to the hospital more than four hours after she started experiencing symptoms – much longer than the recommended time – because she couldn’t call 911.

“Luckily she didn’t have a real stroke, it was more metabolic,” he said. “But if it was a real stroke and she had a clot in her brain… whatever damage was done, it would have been permanent for the rest of her life, and that’s because ‘she couldn’t get EMS.”

“This woman could have lost her life because the network was down.”

Businesses and governments across the country said their services were starting to return to normal on Saturday. The Correctional Service of Canada said telecommunications services at several parole offices and a prison in Ontario had been restored, while the city of Montreal said its 311 service was back up and running.

Several police forces said their 911 services, which had been taken offline during the outage, were able to receive calls again on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Toronto’s Humber River Hospital said it was working to reschedule all of its virtual healthcare appointments that were canceled on Friday.

The country’s entertainment industry has also been affected. The Weeknd was forced to cancel its performance at Rogers Center in Toronto due to logistical issues related to the breakdown.

Helen Kondylis, 30, said she and a friend waited three years of pandemic-related delays and cancellations to see the Canadian musician perform, and drove about six hours from his home in Mirabel, Que. . to watch Friday’s show. But she discovered on leaving her hotel room that the concert had once again been canceled.

“We fought back our tears,” Ms Kondylis said. “We didn’t want to believe it. To make matters worse, its own wireless service was affected by the outage.

Speaking on her functional mobile phone again during a trip back to Quebec on Saturday, Ms Kondylis said she considered her trip a “scary” and “very strange” experience.

“God forbid anything happened, how were we going to reach someone?” she says.

The Public Interest Advocacy Center has made a formal request to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for an investigation into the outage.

“Unless there is a significant consumer push and continued media attention, my concern would be that this would be treated as a one-time event,” Lawford said.

He also called on the government to mandate better communication during major blackouts. He noted that Rogers said little about the cause of the outage on Friday and did not offer a timeline for repairs.

“You have to at least communicate with customers…and there are no rules about that at the moment,” he said.

Patricia Valladao, spokesperson for the CRTC, said the telecommunications regulator is in contact with Rogers.

“Right now, we are focusing on the outage and the recovery after it. When this is over, we will take all necessary steps to review what happened and put in place the necessary measures to prevent it from happening again,” she wrote in an email.

Rogers said it would credit customers for the outage and no action would be required to receive the credits.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are compiled by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. register today.

Comments are closed.