- Rogers dominates Canada’s telecom sector
- Banking services down, transport disrupted
- Outage renews criticism over telecom sector competition
TORONTO/OTTAWA, July 8 (Reuters) – A major network outage at one of Canada’s biggest telecom operators shut banking, transport and government access for millions all day on Friday, drawing outrage from customers and adding to criticism over Rogers Telecommunications’ (RCIb.TO) industry dominance.
Nearly every facet of life has been disrupted. Some callers could not reach emergency services via 911 calls, police across Canada said. Canadians who work from home crowded into cafes and public libraries that still had internet access and hovered outside hotels to catch a signal. Canada’s border services agency said the outage affected its mobile app for incoming travelers. Retailers’ cashless pay systems went down; banks reported issues with ATM services.
The company said it would provide credits to affected customers. Its shares closed down 73 cents at $61.54 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday.
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Later on Friday, Kye Prigg, a senior vice president at Rogers, told the CBC the company does not “have an ETA of when the problem will be fixed” and was still working to identify a cause.
“I wouldn’t like to say whether it’s going to be fully online today or not,” he said.
A spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Friday evening the outage was not the result of a cyber-attack.
The disruption also made transport and flight bookings more difficult at the height of the summer travel season.
So far, Transport Canada has not received reports of direct safety or security impacts to any flights, marine or rail services as part of this outage, according to spokesperson Sau Sau Liu.
The interruption was Rogers’ second in 15 months. It began around 4:30 a.m. ET (0830 GMT) and knocked out a quarter of Canada’s observable internet connectivity, said the NetBlocks monitoring group.
“Today we have let you down. We are working to make this right as quickly as we can,” Rogers said in a statement.
With about 10 million wireless subscribers and 2.25 million retail internet subscribers, Rogers is the top provider in Ontario. Rogers, BCE Inc (BCE.TO) and Telus Corp (T.TO) control 90% of the market share in Canada.
Canadian financial institutions and banks, including Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) and Bank Of Montreal (BMO.TO) said the outage disrupted services. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) said its ATM and online banking services were affected.
A spokesperson for Vancouver International airport, among Canada’s busiest, said travelers could not pay for parking, use terminal ATM machines or purchase items at airport retailers.
Air Canada (AC.TO), the country’s largest airline, said its call center had been affected. Airlines in Canada, like those in Europe and the United States, have been experiencing high call volume amid flight cancellations and delays due to pandemic staffing shortages. read more
The Toronto Blue Jays Twitter account on Friday evening announced that singer the Weeknd’s tour stop at the Rogers Centre stadium had been postponed due to service outages affecting venue operations.
Critics said the outage demonstrated a need for more competition in telecom.
Earlier this year, Canada’s competition bureau blocked Rogers’ attempt to take over rival Shaw Communications (SJRb.TO) in a C$20 billion deal, saying it would hamper competition in a country where telecom rates are some of the world’s highest. The merger still awaits a final verdict. read more
“Today’s outage illustrates the need for more independent competition that will drive more network investment so outages are far less likely,” said Anthony Lacavera, managing director 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 Canada’s passport offices and the telecoms regulator. The Canada Revenue Agency, the country’s tax collection body, lost telephone service.
Canada’s Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said his team has been in contact with the company.
“We expressed how important it is that this matter be resolved as soon as possible and for the company to provide prompt and clear communication directly to those impacted,” he tweeted.
‘CASH WILL BE KING’
Shops and restaurants in Toronto put “Cash Only” signs on their doors. Residents crowded into and around a nearby Starbucks coffee shop offering free Wi-Fi on an unaffected network.
“There’s tons of people here with their laptops just working away ferociously, the same as they would at home, because they’ve got no service at home,” said Starbucks customer Ken Rosenstein.
In downtown Ottawa, cafes including Tim Hortons were not accepting debit and credit cards, and turning away customers who did not have cash.
Michelle Wasylyshen, spokeswoman for the Retail Council of Canada, said outages will vary from one retailer to the next: “Cash will most certainly be king at many stores today.”
While the disruptions were widespread, several companies and transport points said their services were unaffected. The Port of Montreal reported no disruptions. The Calgary Airport Authority said it had “no major operational impacts.”
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
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; Writing by Rami Ayyub and Aurora Ellis; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli, Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.