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Web outage leaves hundreds of thousands of Canadians without access to web, ATM machines and 911 lines

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A large network outage from one in all Canada’s largest telecommunications firms left hundreds of thousands of individuals without mobile and web service, while an untold variety of essential services – similar to ATM transactions, 911 calls and transportation services – were also impacted by the crash.

Rogers Communications Inc, a Toronto-based company, offered no explanation for the blackout, nor provided a turnaround as to when full-service can be restored to their hundreds of thousands of consumers.

The outage, which began early within the day on Friday, lasted for greater than 15 hours as debit transactions, first responders, court proceedings, airlines and even hospital procedures were stymied, alongside general web and mobile access for patrons across the country.

“Our technical teams are working to revive our services alongside our global technology partners, and are making progress,” Rogers said in an announcement Friday. “We know the way much you depend on our networks. Today we now have allow you to down. We’re working to make this right as quickly as we will.”

By Saturday morning, the telecoms giant had issued one other update, notifying customers that a “overwhelming majority” of services had come back online, while still providing no answer as to what the cause behind the main disruption was.

“Following our previous updates, we now have now restored services for the overwhelming majority of our customers and our technical teams are working hard to be certain that the remaining customers are back online as quickly as possible,” the corporate said in an announcement, adding that they’d be “proactively crediting all customers”.

Online, once customers were in a position to get there, people began sharing their outrage on the nation-wide outage, emphasising the systematic problems that may arise when monopolies are allowed to take over a vital utility that allows services for a rustic’s basic functioning.

“When one company’s service outage takes down every little thing in a rustic from 911 calls to The Weeknd’s concert, that company has an excessive amount of power,” tweeted Gerald Butts, a former principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Along with one in all two sets from the Toronto rapper getting postponed, the disruption also forced businesses unable to process debit transactions to change to analog or cash-only, while hospitals across southern Ontario reported that staff were unable to alert about being unwell, while others were forced to redirect their oncology patients to other facilities to receive emergency radiation.

“Due to the Rogers outage, hundreds of thousands of Canadians couldn’t call 911 yesterday. Hospitals couldn’t call in staff.  There was no approach to call families in order that they may say goodbye to their family members at end of life. Now…do you all see why corporate monopolies are dangerous?” tweeted Dr Amit Arya, a palliative care physician on the Brampton Civic Hospital in southern Ontario.

The fad that many purchasers expressed online was picked up by consumer advocates and critics, who called for each a proper inquiry to be conducted by the industry’s chief regulatory agency and for essential services to stop being vertically integrated into monopolies just like the telecom industry.

“​​This unacceptable situation is why quality, diversity & reliability are key to our telecom network,” tweeted François-Philippe Champagne, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry in regards to the company, who has about 10m wireless subscribers and a couple of.25m retail web users.

“This Rogers outage highlights the risks of our monopolized industry,” tweeted Latest Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, while taking a swipe at Mr Trudeau’s Liberal-ruling party: “These are the implications of a Liberal govt that’s fixated on protecting the profits of telecoms giants.”

The momentum to call for a public inquiry into the incident was quickly picked up by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, who wrote in a letter to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that they believed it was high time for a probe of the reason behind this most up-to-date outage.

“We don’t consider that we’re required to justify the seriousness of the disruption faced by consumers and residents regarding the current outage, which is manifest,” PIAC said in a letter to the CRTC.

The regulator, which noted it too was feeling the impacts from Friday’s disruption – “Please note that our phone lines are affected by the Rogers network outage” the agency tweeted Friday morning – said it was involved with the corporate, but didn’t indicate whether an inquiry can be launched.

“We recognize the importance of telecommunication services to Canadians. We have now been in regular contact with Rogers, their services have been restored, including emergency services,” tweeted the CRTC. “We proceed to watch this concerning situation and will likely be follow-up with Rogers.”

In Canada, telecommunications services are dominated by three major firms, Rogers Communications Inc, Telus Corp and BCE Inc, with the monopoly controlling 90 per cent of the wireless market coming to be colloquially referred to contained in the country because the “Big 3”.

Several foreign analyses of the Canadian telecom industry conducted in recent times have repeatedly evidenced that customers within the North American country pay essentially the most for mobile phone services than almost anywhere else on this planet.

“Prices within the Canadian wireless market … proceed to be the very best or amongst the very best on this planet,” read a 2021 report from Rewheel, a Finnish telecom research firm, who conducted a world comparison of mobile data rates. Canada’s wireless network market is a “de facto network duopoly”, the firm concluded.

The Big 3’s dominance, which has consistently forced the country’s wireless network to rank as one in all the least competitive on this planet, is a significant contributing factor to the disproportionate monetary burden that Canadian customers face in relation to their mobile phone bills.

(One hour of your favourite binge on Netflix, for example, using Canadian mobile data will ring up $12.55CAD within the North American country, whereas in Italy, the identical programme will cost you simply 43 cents CAD).

But more importantly, as was highlighted throughout the weekend outage, the dearth of diversity out there has created a tenuously precarious system upon which day-to-day functions can come crashing down with one, still unexplained, blip.

“Yesterday, staff who were sick had no way of notifying the hospital because of @Rogers mass network outage. They simply didn’t show up. Patients suffered tremendously. So did the few staff who were present,” tweeted Birgit Umaigba, an ICU nurse working in hospitals across Toronto. “Who else thinks it’s time to finish cellphone monopolies in Canada?”

The pushback from most people and advocates also comes at a pivotal time for the telecom giant when it’s already facing pressure over its anti-competition dealings.

On Friday, within the early hours of the disruption, the corporate was within the midst of wrapping up a two-day mediation with Shaw Communications Inc, overseen by the Competition Bureau.

Shaw, a smaller communications company whose customer count is dwarfed by the telecom titan with nearly 7 million broadband, wireless, cable, home phone or satelitte subscribers, is being pursued by Rogers, which is currently attempting to win over regulator approval with a $26-billion takeover.

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