Rogers CEO to MPs: Outage Lasted ‘Little Less Than a Day’; Canadians Have ‘Alternatives and Choice’
Federal Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne and top Rogers executives answered questions from the House of Commons Industry and Technology Committee on Monday morning.
Champagne’s appearance was disappointing, according to analysts. University of Ottawa Law Professor, Michael Geist, said, “Disappointing INDU appearance from Minister @FP_Champagne on Rogers outage. Many references to “demanding” action and “solution mode” but largely avoids competition issues, Rogers-Shaw merger, legislative reform, and CRTC weakness. Getting tough in private calls isn’t real reform.”
As for Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri, he was responding to comments from Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith about competition, stating Canadians have “alternative and choice,” adding “very much so”. Erskine-Smith replied, “and you’re saying this with a straight face?”
When it came to describing the July 8 outage, the Rogers CEO said it “lasted little less than a day”, while adding it was longer for some customers.
Staffieri continued to stress the Shaw deal would allow Rogers to make investments that “neither one can do on our own”, such as fast-tracking network resiliency and redundancy. He said Rogers continues to invest more than ever into its wireless and wireless networks. But this statement was contradictory as pointed out by Dwayne Winseck and Ben Klass:
Contra #Rogers CEO comments, wireline & wireless capital investment has trended down over the last several years, i.e. trend precedes Covid. It has never been all that remarkable, either, relative to historical & int'l standards. #CRTC #INDU https://t.co/MgZLD9jwCF pic.twitter.com/klEX7cr4ie
— Dwayne Winseck (@mediamorphis) July 25, 2022
From Rogers supplemental financial information XLS table, capital expenditures:
2021: $2,788B CAD
2020: $2,312 CAD
2019: $2,807 CAD
— Ben Klass (@BenKlass) July 25, 2022
The Rogers CEO said he had “full confidence” in its new chief technology officer Ron McKenzie.
When asked about INTERAC, the Rogers CEO said they failed the company and also Canadians.
Rogers CTO Ron McKenzie told the committee it was “difficult to simulate a whole live environment,” when asked why the upgrade wasn’t tested in a sandboxed environment first.
In responding to question from NDP MP @BrianMasseMP Rogers CEO Staffieri won’t even directly say that completing 911 emergency calls is an essential service.
— Michael Geist (@mgeist) July 25, 2022
MP Brian Masse questioned the transparency of telecom executives meeting privately with Canada’s industry minister, to come up with solutions. “I fail to see how this process will build public trust,” said Masse. “We have failed collectively on 911, something that was supposed to be guaranteed,” said Masse, adding there will be heavily redacted materials about what will come of this.
It’s unclear if Rogers will face any penalties from the network outage, aside from being asked tough questions. Bell and Telus have yet to experience nationwide outages at this scale due to maintenance updates.
The hearing is ongoing and happening right now. You can watch it live here.