- Rogers dominates the Canadian telecom sector
- Bank services down, transport interrupted
- Outage renews criticism of telecom sector competition
TORONTO/OTTAWA, July 8 (Reuters) – Rogers Telecommunications said its network began to recover late Friday after a 19-hour outage at one of Canada’s largest telecom operators. add to the criticism of the sector’s dominance.
Almost every facet of life has been disrupted, with the breakdown of internet access, cell phones and landline telephone connections. Some callers were unable to reach emergency services via 911 calls, police across Canada said.
Canadians crowded into cafes and public libraries that still had internet access and floated outside hotels to pick up a signal. The Canadian Border Service Bureau said the outage impacted the mobile app for inbound travelers. Retailers’ cashless payment systems went down; banks reported problems with ATMs.
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Rogers (RCIb.TO) said in a statement on Twitter that “our wireless services are starting to recover” and employees are trying to get people back online as soon as possible.
in a separate pronunciation on his website, Rogers President and Chief Executive Officer Tony Staffieri apologized for the outage, saying, “Today we disappoint you. We can and will do better.”
He added that the company does not have a timeline on when the networks will be fully restored, “but we will continue to share information with our customers as we restore full services.”
He said a credit would be applied to affected customers.
A spokesman for Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino said Friday evening that the outage was not the result of a cyber attack.
Shares of Rogers closed 73 cents at $61.54 ($47.53) on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
The disruption also made it more difficult to book transport and flights at the height of the summer travel season.
So far, Transport Canada has not received any reports of direct safety or security impacts on flights, sea or rail services as part of this outage, spokesman Sau Liu said.
The hiatus was Rogers’ second in 15 months. It kicked off around 4:30 a.m. ET (0830 GMT) and disabled a quarter of Canada’s observable internet connectivity, the NetBlocks monitoring group said.
With approximately 10 million wireless subscribers and 2.25 million retail Internet subscribers, Rogers is the largest provider in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province and home to its largest city, Toronto. Rogers, BCE Inc (BCE.TO) and Telus Corp (T.TO) control 90% of the market share in Canada.
Canada’s Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne called the situation “unacceptable” in a tweet and said he was in contact with telecom CEOs, including Rogers, Bell and Telus, to find a solution.
Canadian financial institutions and banks, including Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) and Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO), said the outage disrupted service. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) said his ATMs and online banking services were affected.
A spokesman for Vancouver International airport, one of Canada’s busiest, said travelers could not pay for parking, use ATMs or purchase items from airport stores.
Air Canada (AC.TO), the country’s largest airline, said the call center had been affected. Airlines in Canada, such as those in Europe and the United States, have experienced high call volume due to flight cancellations and delays due to pandemic staffing. read more
Pop star The Weeknd announced Friday night that his tour stop at Rogers Center stadium had been postponed due to service outages affecting the venue’s operations.
“I’m crushed and heartbroken. I’ve been at the venue all day but it’s out of our hands because of the Rogers outage,” the singer wrote in a tweet.
Critics said the outage showed a need for more competition in telecoms.
Earlier this year, Canada’s competition agency blocked Rogers’ attempt to acquire rival Shaw Communications (SJRb.TO) in a $20 billion deal that says it would hamper competition in a country where telecom tariffs are among the highest in the world. The merger is still pending a final decision. read more
“Today’s outage illustrates the need for more independent competition that will lead to more network investment so that outages are much less likely,” said Anthony Lacavera, president of Globealive, an investment firm that had bid for a wireless provider involved in the Rogers. /Shaw deal .
On Friday, some government agencies canceled services after losing internet access, including the Canadian passport offices and the telecom regulator. The Canada Revenue Agency, the country’s tax collecting body, has lost telephone service.
‘CASH WILL BE KING’
Shops and restaurants in Toronto hang ‘cash only’ signs on their doors. Residents crowded in and around a nearby Starbucks coffee shop with free Wi-Fi on an untouched network.
“There are tons of people here with their laptops just frantically working, just like at home, because they have no service at home,” said Starbucks customer Ken Rosenstein.
In downtown Ottawa, Canada’s capital, cafes, including Tim Hortons, refused to accept debit and credit cards and refused customers who lacked cash.
Michelle Wasylyshen, spokeswoman for the Retail Council of Canada, said outages can vary from store to store: “Cash will definitely be king in many stores these days.”
Although the disruptions were widespread, several companies and transportation points said their services were unaffected. The Port of Montreal reported no disruptions. The Calgary Airport Authority said it had “no major operational impact”.
($1 = 1.2948 Canadian dollars)
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Reporting by Yuvraj Malik, Eva Matthews, Shubham Kalia and Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Katharine Jackson in Washington; Divya Rajagopal and Chris Helgren in Toronto; Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Written by Rami Ayyub, Aurora Ellis and Christian Schmollinger; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli, Jonathan Oatis, David Gregorio and Leslie Adler & Shri Navaratnam
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