Rogers outage: What we know about the network failure

Last Friday, Rogers experienced a major nationwide network outage affecting a range of services, from landline and cellphone coverage to internet and TV.

Not only could people not make calls, including 911 calls in some cases, customers had trouble making debit purchases and accessing Canada’s ArriveCan app, which is required to enter the country.

The company says it has restored services to the “vast majority” of its customers, although reports of continued outages and poor connections persisted over the weekend.

Here is what we know so far about the Rogers outage.

WHEN DID IT START?

The outage began early Friday morning, with the online service tracker istheservicedown.ca reporting issues from Roger as early as 4:40 am EDT, with initial reports coming from Ontario.

Rogers confirmed shortly before 9 am EDT on Twitter that it was aware of issues affecting the network.

At approximately 11:30 am EDT, Rogers said the outage had spread across its wireline and wireless networks.

By Friday evening, Rogers said it had begun to see its wireless services return online.

On Saturday, Rogers president and CEO Tony Staffieri told CTV News Channel “pretty close to 100 per cent” of the company’s network had returned online, with “less than one per cent” of customers still experiencing “intermittent issues.”

Some customers reported ongoing problems over the weekend, including into Sunday.

HOW MANY PEOPLE DID THE OUTAGE AFFECT?

Rogers has not disclosed how many customers were affected by the outage.

However, the UK-based organization NetBlocks, which monitors cybersecurity, said the outage knocked out one-quarter of Canada’s observable connectivity.

Rogers had nearly 11.3 million wireless subscribers and more than 2.6 million internet subscribers in 2021, the company’s annual report for that year shows.

Calls and texts between Bell customers or to other providers were not impacted, the company said. CTV News is a division of Bell Media. Telus also issued a similar statement.

However, customers from these and other providers did report having trouble reaching those on the Rogers network.

Coffee shops across Canada were also flooded with Rogers customers in search of free Wi-Fi. Many Rogers customers have criticized Rogers for its lack of communication at the outset on the cause for the outage and when services were expected to return.

With the outage also knocking down Interac services, businesses struggled to take payments from customers, who in the end were forced to take out cash.

Financial institutions, including TD Canada Trust, BMO and Royal Bank said the outage had disrupted their operations.

Government agencies such as Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency reported outages to their phone lines.

Transit systems, such as Ontario’s Metrolinx, also reported issues with fare payments.


Hospitals reported problems with their phone systems, with Scarborough Health Network in Ontario asking physicians and staff on-call to come in to the hospital physically.

By the end of the trading day Friday, Rogers shares were down 73 cents at $61.54 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Reuters reported.

WHAT CAUSED THE OUTAGE?

Staffieri said that a “network system failure” after a “maintenance update” in the company’s core network was to blame for the outage. He said in a statement on Saturday the update caused some routers to malfunction.

“We disconnected the specific equipment and redirected traffic, which allowed our network and services to come back online over time as we managed traffic volumes returning to normal levels,” he said.

Technology and cybersecurity analyst Ritesh Kotak told CTV News Channel on Monday that a cellphone connects to a network through towers and a complex “backbone” communication infrastructure with routers and switches, all of which need to be maintained.

“They went to go do an update on one of those critical backbone systems that went horribly wrong and shut down everything coast to coast to coast,” he said.

On Friday, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino confirmed to CTV News that the outage was not due to a cyberattack.

Speaking to CTV News Channel on Saturday, Kotak said even before Rogers released a statement about the cause for the outage, he suspected that a cyberattack was not the reason.

Kotak explained that the outage took place early in the morning, which is generally when major updates occur, and also pointed out this is not the first time something like this has happened to Rogers.

The Rogers cellular network experienced a similar all-day service outage in April 2021, which the company also blamed on a software update.

WHAT IS BEING DONE?

Staffieri and other telecom leaders are set to meet with Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne to discuss improving “the reliability of networks across Canada,” a statement from the minister’s office said.

That meeting is expected to take place virtually Monday.

Rogers has said it will also “proactively credit all customers automatically” through their accounts.

However, exactly how much customers will be funded remains to be seen.

In its first quarterly report of 2022, Rogers said its average monthly revenue per wireless user was $57.25. Assuming customers receive a two-day credit for the outage that would only amount to approximately $3.82 total.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on Friday confirmed it received, and is reviewing, a request from the not-for-profit Public Interest Advocacy Center to launch an inquiry under the Telecommunications Act.

Meanwhile, the extended outage is raising questions about the need for more competition in Canada’s telecom industry.

It comes as Rogers pursues a $26-billion deal to purchase Shaw Communications Inc., something Canada’s Competition Bureau is currently fighting.


With files from CTV News, The Canadian Press and Reuters

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