Rogers CEO apologizes for massive service outage, blames maintenance update

The fallout from a massive network outage at Rogers Communications that shut down mobile and internet services across much of Canada continued to be in the spotlight Saturday, even as the company restored most services and began offering an explanation of what happened.

The widespread outage, which began early Friday morning, paralyzed communications in various sectors, including health care, law enforcement and the financial industry. Many 911 services were unable to receive incoming calls, several hospitals reported service hits, and debit transactions stopped when Interac went offline.

Small business owners were among the hardest hit by the outage, which left them unable to process debit card payments.

Sharif Ahmed, owner of the Plantforsoul plant store in Toronto’s west end, said the blackout left him feeling helpless as he turned away customers who had no cash.

“It pretty much stopped my business,” he said in an interview on Saturday. “Most people don’t use cash anymore, so I pretty much sat in my office doing nothing.”

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Major Rogers blackout affects businesses and customers across Canada

Rogers customers were caught off guard by Friday’s massive outage involving mobile and internet networks, which also caused widespread disruption for banks, businesses and some emergency services across Canada.

Suddenly not being able to accept card payments is a “big deal,” he said. “We just can’t stop, we’re paying rent and everything.”

At nearby Caked Coffee, owner Supreet Arora said people walked in thinking only their Wi-Fi and cell phones were affected, only to find the cafe had no Wi-Fi either.

“they entered [and] you want to help them, [but] there’s no Wi-Fi here,” he said in an interview on Saturday.

Arora said she kept forgetting to tell people she could only accept cash until she had prepared their food, so she served them anyway, noting that many people paid again on Saturday.

Late Saturday afternoon, Rogers Chairman and CEO Tony Staffieri said service had been restored and the company’s “networks and systems are almost fully operational.”

Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri in Toronto in April 2013 apologized Saturday for a prolonged network outage the day before that affected customers across the country. (Matthew Sherwood/The Canadian Press)

In a written statement, Staffieri said the company is continuing to monitor its network for issues and investigating the root cause of the outage.

“We now believe we have narrowed the cause down to a network system failure following a maintenance update on our core network, which caused some of our routers to fail early Friday morning,” he said.

Staffieri apologized for the outage, adding that “we are particularly concerned that some customers were unable to reach emergency services and we are addressing the issue as an urgent priority.”

‘This could have been catastrophic’

Richard Leblanc, a professor of governance, law and ethics at York University in Toronto, said the outage was a learning opportunity for threat actors, such as Russian state-sponsored hackers, who can now see how vulnerable they are. Canadian industry, financial institutions and health. The attention systems are for an attack on a telecommunications provider.

“This could have been catastrophic for the country if it was a threat actor,” he said on Saturday.

Leblanc said the blackout, Rogers’ second of a significant outage in 15 months, makes it clear that the federal government cannot simply trust telecommunications companies to do the right thing.

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Rogers service is back up and running for most customers, but not everything is restored

The Rogers network outage that disrupted service across the country is still affecting some customers. The telecommunications company has not yet explained what caused the interruption.

“I think it’s time for regulators, and this includes Industry Canada, the CRTC and the Competition Tribunal, to start insisting on adequate, robust and independently audited internal controls, so you don’t have an outage like this,” said.

While Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne described the disruption as “unacceptable,” Leblanc said that kind of talk must be followed by action.

“I think the regulators have the authority, they have the power. The question is: do they have the courage to use it?” he said.

A sign at a Vancouver store warns customers Friday that credit and debit services are down. (Justine Boulin/CBC)

Patricia Valladao, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, said the telecommunications regulator is in contact with Rogers.

“Right now, our focus is on the outage and recovering from it. When it’s over, we will take whatever steps are necessary to examine what happened and take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from happening again,” he wrote in an email. .

According to Netblocks, a UK-based organization that monitors cybersecurity, at its peak, the outage knocked out about 25 percent of Canada’s observable internet connectivity.

People use their devices outside a Starbucks coffee shop in Toronto amid Rogers’ nationwide outage on Friday. (Alex Lupul/CBC)

Rogers said he will proactively credit customers for the outage, but did not provide details on the amount. The company said it is aware of spam text messages claiming to offer the credit and that customers will receive the credit automatically.

Leblanc said he expects to see class action lawsuits, and lawsuits from individual firms, that try to quantify the cost of the outage.

“Lawyers are good at it, so if there is a class action lawsuit, they can measure lost productivity, opportunity cost of not being able to work, missed meetings, missed opportunities, lost contracts. It’s significant,” he said. “If all these millions of people lose a day of their working life, they are not going to recover with a credit.”

Rogers did not respond to multiple requests for comment Saturday from The Canadian Press about the number of customers affected and the credit customers will receive.

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