Rogers, Telus, Bell Sign Network Safety Plan in Wake of July Outage

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Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne on Wednesday announced that Rogers and “other major wireless telecommunications companies” have signed an agreement to share resources and maintain network safety if an incident similar to the former’s nationwide network outage back in July takes place. 

Following the July service failure, Champagne met with the CEOs of Rogers, Telus, and Bell to express “the frustration of millions of Canadians” who lost phone and internet access during the outage.

Champagne demanded that Canada’s Big Three telecom operators establish a formal agreement to improve the resiliency and reliability of their networks by sharing resources during a mass disruption. The minister gave telcos 60 days to draft and sign this network safety plan.

“As of September 9th , should one of these providers be faced with a major network outage, the other companies have committed to provide the support and assistance necessary so that Canadians can reach loved ones, access 911, and conduct business transactions,” Champagne said in a statement on Wednesday.

July’s Rogers network outage took out everything from cellular service and broadband internet to 9-1-1 services and the INTERAC banking system.

“The Rogers outage of July 8 was unacceptable, and we must do everything possible to ensure something similar does not happen again in the future, as I said at the time,” he added. “Canadians deserve strong, reliable, and affordable telecommunications networks.”

As part of the network safety plan, operators have agreed to ensure and guarantee emergency roaming, mutual assistance, and a communications protocol for advising the public and government during major outages and other emergencies.

Minister Champagne went on to tout Ottawa’s “ambitious” telecommunications resiliency agenda, which he said is based on three pillars:

  • robust networks and systems
  • coordinated planning and preparedness
  • strengthening accountability

In addition, Champagne announced a series of additional steps to improve telecom resiliency across Canada. These included encouraging a Public Safety Broadband Network, a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) investigation into the July Rogers network outage (and the steps the company is taking to prevent another one), and more.

Champagne has also ordered the Canadian Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (CSTAC) to develop further measures to that effect.

“As we move forward, I will continue to hold Canada’s telecommunications service providers accountable, and keep Canadians updated on the work our government is doing to strengthen the reliability of our networks and granting affordability and competition,” Champagne concluded. Tough talk, let’s see if anything actually comes out of this.