Telus and Bell Offered to Take on Rogers Customers During Nationwide Outage

Rogers has responded to the flurry of questions the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) had over the network outage earlier this month that took millions of Canadians offline — reports The Globe and Mail.

On early July 8, a massive breakdown took out the majority of Rogers’s wireless, wireline, and internet networks. The outage affected everything from cellphone calling and data to 9-1-1 services, banking networks like INTERAC, and home and business internet.

According to recently released documents, Rogers could not hand its customers off to Bell and Telus while it dealt with the issue as doing so would have overwhelmed the two rivals’ networks.

On the morning of the outage, Rogers’s (now former) CTO Jorge Fernandes called up the technology chiefs at Bell and Telus to tell them to look out for cyber attacks on their own networks. Both offered to temporarily adopt Rogers subscribers, but the latter did not take either up on it.

“Given the national nature of this event, no competitor’s network would have been able to handle the extra and sudden volume of wireless users (over 10.2 million) and the related voice/data traffic surge,” Rogers told the CRTC in the filings.

“If not done carefully, such an attempt could have impeded the operations of the other carriers’ networks.”

Rogers later discovered that the cause of the outage was a coding error that resulted in “a network system failure following a maintenance update.”

“While every effort was made to prevent and limit the outage, the consequence of the coding change affected the network very quickly,” read the documents.

Rogers said in its response to the CRTC that it has already taken steps to prevent future outages and is currently reviewing its internal processes to improve them. In particular, the company has said it will separate its wireless and wireline core networks to improve resiliency.

Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri has repeatedly called the outage “unacceptable,” vowing to make “every change and investment needed” to regain user trust and prevent similar incidents in the future. However, the (heavily redacted) documents did not disclose any of the remedial steps Rogers plans to take imminently.

Furthermore, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne has tasked the Big Three with submitting a network safety plan to address outage concerns by September. As part of the mandate, Rogers, Telus, and Bell must establish agreements to pool resources and provide emergency roaming.

Meanwhile, bigwigs from Rogers are also scheduled to appear before the House of Commons Industry and Technology committee to answer questions regarding this month’s outage.