Rogers Answers More Outage Questions to CRTC, But Hides Info from Public

Rogers has answered another round of questions from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) over last month’s nationwide Rogers network outage that left much of Canada without phone and internet service — reports The Globe and Mail.

The telecom giant previously explained that the large-scale disruption was caused by a coding error during an upgrade to its core network that ultimately took down most of its services.

Rogers this week provided more information to the CRTC, but redacted the bulk of it and asked in a Monday letter that it remain confidential. The heavily redacted responses were published on the CRTC’s website on Wednesday.

“Any possible public interest in disclosure of the information in these Responses is greatly outweighed by the specific direct harm that would flow to Rogers and to its customers,” Rogers argued in its letter.

One of the CRTC’s biggest questions for this round was about the economic impact of the outage and the cost and timing of the system upgrades planned to prevent future outages of similar scale. Rogers told the regulator that it “simply does not possess the economic data necessary to properly model the impact of the outage.”

While the company did provide information on the cost and expected timeline of its planned network upgrades, most of this information was redacted.

From the available information, Rogers now estimates that its “separation plan” to uncouple its wired and wireless networks will cost $261 million, up from $250 million previously. The telco noted that there would be no “fate-sharing” between its wired and wireless networks once this plan is implemented.

Responses to the CRTC’s questions on the cost and timeline of Rogers’ planned $10 billion investment in its network over the next three years to make it more reliable were also redacted. According to Rogers’ second-quarter financial results, the company will take a $150 million hit from outage-related refunds to customers in Q3.

Rogers even redacted the number of emergency calls made on its network on the day of the outage. Last month’s outage prevented many Rogers customers from reaching emergency services. All the company said was that 9-1-1 calls made on its network on July 8 represented 60% of its daily average.

Geoff White, executive director of the national advocacy group Competitive Network Operators of Canada, has advocated for the CRTC to force Rogers to make some of the missing information public.

“Entire pages are redacted, which totally frustrates this vital process of understanding what went wrong and why,” White said.

Rogers already set some precedent for more forthcoming disclosure earlier this month when it released a significantly less-redacted version of its responses to the CRTC’s first round of questioning.

Meanwhile, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre — a consumer organization — continues to urge the CRTC to open a public inquiry into the Rogers outage.

A CRTC spokesperson said in a Wednesday email that the regulator would determine whether any additional disclosure is needed after it reviews all the information before it.

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