Blackout at Rogers: Networks should be 'public goods', experts say


Breakdown at Rogers: Networks Should Be “Public Goods,” Experts Say

A major outage affected Rogers' cross-Canada network on Friday. Twenty-four hours later, the situation was still not fully restored.

The outage that hit Rogers' network on Friday highlights the vulnerability of private systems telecommunications, say experts in this field.

The outage underscored in broad strokes the fact that Canada's telecommunications infrastructure and services are privately owned, said Vass Bednar, director of McMaster University's Masters in Public Policy for the Digital Society program.


The outage didn't just affect the cell phones of millions of Canadians: many services were inaccessible, from Interac payments to 911 emergency lines.

Bednar argues that telecommunications networks like cellphones and the Internet should be considered public goods. According to her, they are an essential digital infrastructure that we must use, and yet they are owned and operated by the private sector. Ms. Bednar adds that it may be time for Canadians to seriously rethink [this question].

This incident at Rogers could be due to an update that went wrong. shot in one of the company's internal systems, thinks technology analyst Ritesh Kotak.

According to him, this situation also shows the vulnerability of the entire Canadian economy to this kind of breakdown, which can completely paralyze it for a few hours, or even several days. This should, he says, encourage customers and businesses to diversify their telecommunications service providers.

We depend on this technology, Kotak insists, and it has affected several services government, telecommuting employees and retail transactions.

Several business owners had to notify consumers on Friday that the Interac system was not working.

The outage comes as Rogers and another industry giant, Shaw Communication, mediate with the Canadian Competition Bureau to try to get the green light for their merger.

Earlier this year, the Bureau had blocked the transaction, believing that the new organization that would emerge from it would take too much of the Canadian market, which would result in higher bills for consumers.

Rogers suffered a second major outage in 14 months on Friday following the April 19, 2021, failure when the company's wireless and wired networks sputtered.

At the time, Rogers had mentioned a problem during a software update at one of its equipment suppliers.

All companies [are] dependent and interdependent on suppliers, says Daniel Dancause, emergency measures expert at Prudent Groupe Conseil.

I think some soul-searching needs to be done [not only by] many Rogers customers but [by other providers] as well,” Dancause said. He hopes that this will force the telecommunications giants to consider their services as essential services to the population [and to provide] at least a backup plan that will help minimize the impact of network failures.

Daniel Dancause thus pleads for the creation of systems like Québec en ALERT, which would inform the population when there are breakdowns in the communications networks. These services could make it possible to say to the population: "We have a major problem in such and such a case", says Mr. Dancause.

During the blackout on Friday, certain services such as text messaging was functional, but other services such as telephone communications were unavailable, while wi-fi was intermittent.

We should have backup plans to have at least additional [telephone] lines, [because] we don't want to have any interruption of service, concludes Mr. Dancause.

With information from CBC


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