- Rogers dominates the Canadian telecom sector
- Banking services are disrupted, transportation is disrupted
- The outage renews criticism of competition in the telecommunications sector
TORONTO/OTTAWA (Reuters) – A major network outage at one of Canada’s largest telecom operators shut down banks, transport and government income for millions throughout the day on Friday, angering customers and adding to criticism over Rogers Communications. (RCIb.TO) Industry dominance.
Almost every aspect of life has been disrupted, with outages affecting internet access, cellular and landline phone connections. Police across Canada said some callers were unable to reach emergency services via 911 calls.
Canadians working from home crowded cafes and public libraries that still had an internet connection and hovered outside hotels to catch a signal. The Canada Border Services Agency said the outage affected the mobile app for incoming travelers. Cashless payment systems for retailers have been disrupted; Banks have reported problems with ATM services.
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Rogers said it will provide credits to affected customers. Its shares closed down 73 cents at $61.54 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Later on Friday, Kee Brig, senior vice president at Rogers, told CBC that the company did not have “a specific time to get to when the problem was resolved” and was still working to determine the cause.
“I wouldn’t say whether he’ll be fully online today or not,” he said.
A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Friday night that the outage was not the result of a cyberattack.
The disruption also made transportation and flight bookings more difficult at the height of the summer travel season.
To date, Transport Canada has not received reports of direct safety or security impacts on any flights, marine or rail services as part of this outage, according to a Sau Sau Liu spokesperson.
It was Rogers’ second boycott in 15 months. It started around 4:30 a.m. EDT (0830 GMT) and took down a quarter of observable internet connectivity in Canada, according to monitoring group NetBlocks.
“Today we let you down,” Rogers said in a statement. “We are working to correct this as quickly as possible.”
With about 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) Controlling 90% of the market share in Canada.
Canadian Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne in a tweet called the situation “unacceptable” and said he was in contact with telecoms executives, including Rogers, Bell and Tellus, to find a solution.
Canadian financial institutions and banks, including the Toronto Dominion Bank (TD.TO) The Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO), said services disrupted outages. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) It said ATMs and online banking were affected.
A spokesperson for Vancouver International Airport, which is among Canada’s busiest, said travelers cannot pay for parking, use ATMs or purchase items from airport retailers.
Canadian Air (AC.TO)The country’s largest airline said its call center was affected. Airlines in Canada, such as those in Europe and the United States, are seeing a slew of calls amid flight cancellations and delays due to staff shortages due to the pandemic. Read more
Pop star The Weeknd announced Friday night that his stop at Rogers Center Stadium has been postponed due to a service outage affecting the venue’s operations.
“I’m smashed and broken. Been around all day but it’s out of our hands due to Rogers’ outage,” the singer wrote in a tweet.
Critics said the outage demonstrated the need for more competition in telecommunications.
Earlier this year, the Canadian Competition Bureau blocked Rogers’ bid to take over rival Shaw Communications (SJRb.TO) In a deal worth C$20 billion, saying it would hinder competition in a country where telecom prices are among the highest in the world. The merger is still waiting for the final verdict. Read more
Anthony Lacavera, managing director of Globealive, an investment firm that has bid for the wireless provider involved in the Rogers/Shaw deal, said.
On Friday, some government agencies canceled services after losing access to the internet, including the Canadian passport offices and the Communications Regulatory Authority. The Canada Revenue Agency, the country’s tax collection body, has lost phone service.
“Cash will be king’
Shops and restaurants in Toronto put “Cash Only” signs on their doors. Residents crowded in and around a nearby Starbucks that offers free Wi-Fi on an unaffected network.
“There are a lot of people here with their laptops working really hard, like they do at home, because they don’t get service at home,” said Ken Rosenstein, a Starbucks customer.
In downtown Ottawa, the capital of Canada, coffee shops including Tim Hortons weren’t accepting debit and credit cards and were turning down customers without cash.
“Cash will certainly be king in many stores today,” said Michelle Waseline, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Retail Council, who said outages will vary from retailer to retailer.
And while the unrest spread widely, several companies and transfer points said their services were not affected. The port of Montreal has not reported any disturbances. The Calgary Airport Authority said there were “no significant operational implications”.
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Additional reporting by Yuvraj Malik, Eva Matthews, Chobham Kalia and Maria Bonizath in Bengaluru; Katherine Jackson from Washington. Divya Rajagopal and Chris Hellgren from Toronto; Ismael Shakeel in Ottawa; Written by Rami Ayoub and Aurora Ellis. Editing by Shinjini Ganguly, Jonathan Otis, David Gregorio and Leslie Adler
Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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