Breakdown at Rogers: Telekom is forced to help each other in an emergency

Canadian telecoms companies must agree on a “mutual support protocol” by the end of the summer if one of them suffers a major outage, Minister François-Philippe Champagne told the outlet at a meeting with industry leaders on Monday afternoon.

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Mr Champagne reiterated to Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri during the meeting that the situation created by last Friday’s major outage was “unacceptable, period” and that the millions of customers affected must be “proactively” compensated.

The Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry also announced that the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) would conduct an investigation into the causes of the outage and provide best practice recommendations to the government.

“My job today was to tell them what I expect from them [Rogers]. I told them clearly and unequivocally on behalf of Canadians and millions of Rogers customers, and I think the message got heard,” he told media.

Resilience goal.

The Minister’s goal is to improve the “resilience” of Canada’s grid by implementing an action plan in the event of a major outage. Telekom has 60 days to reach an agreement.

That plan must include an offer for roaming emergency services because, as Mr Champagne pointed out, Rogers’ outage prevented even calls to emergency services such as 911.

In the event of a major outage, a company’s customers could have their phones automatically connected to another network, the minister suggested.

The latter finally insisted on having a clear communication protocol between the company and customers in the event of an outage, as many customers complained about Rogers’ lack of communication last Friday.

Executives from TELUS, Videotron, Bell, Shaw, SaskTel and Eastlink also participated in the minister’s conference call, which lasted just over an hour.

A Montreal law firm has filed a class action lawsuit against Rogers not only for the inconvenience caused by the outage but also for false advertising, with the Toronto-based company claiming to be “the most reliable network in the country.”

The Rogers outage impacted a number of services across the country for at least 12 hours, with service only resuming late Friday night. The company and its subsidiaries Fido and Chatr together have nearly 15 million customers for wireless services alone.

Another impact of the outage: Transactions between thousands of businesses and their potential customers were suddenly rendered impossible.

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