Rogers outage: House of Commons committee to hold two hearings on Monday

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Rogers outage: House of Commons committee to hold two hearings on Monday

Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, François-Philippe Champagne

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry and Technology will hold two hearings Monday into the Rogers outage that lasted more than 15 hours and left millions of Canadians unable to communicate and use certain electronic services.

The July 8 outage affected Rogers mobile and Internet users, knocked out ATMs, shut down the Interac payment system and prevented calls to 911 services in some Canadian cities.

Committee members held an emergency meeting on July 15 and voted unanimously to open an investigation into the Rogers outage.

Rogers executives, Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and representatives of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission are scheduled to testify. The committee will seek answers on the cause of the outage, its overall effect, and best practices to prevent future outages and better communicate with the public during such emergencies.

Following the outage, Minister Champagne asked Canada's major telecommunications companies to enter into outage assistance agreements and a communication protocol to better inform Canadians in the event of an emergency. However, industry observers have called for increased competition in the telecommunications industry to lessen the impact of future outages on Canadians.

Rogers is aiming for a hold control of Shaw Communications for $26 billion, but the transaction notably requires the approval of the Competition Bureau.

On Sunday, Rogers announced measures to improve its network. In particular, an official agreement has been concluded with other suppliers to automatically transfer calls from the 911 emergency service to other telecommunications networks, in the event of a breakdown.

Last Friday, in a brief to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Rogers said it was unable to route calls from its customers through its competitors during the significant outage, despite offers of support from Bell and Telus.

Rogers President and CEO Tony Staffieri has indicated he will separate physically its wireless and Internet services to ensure that customers no longer experience an outage of both wireless and Internet services.

The Canadian company said that it was committing to invest $10 billion over the next three years to improve its services.

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