Blackout leaves many without mobile service and internet

Blackout in Canada Rogers (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A widespread network outage for Rogers Communications Inc. left many Canadian customers without mobile service and the Internet on Friday and caused problems for police, courts, passport offices and other facilities.

A notice on the Toronto-based telecommunications company’s website said the outage is affecting wireless and home service customers as well as phone and chat support.

The outage disrupted services at retailers, courthouses, airlines, train networks, credit card processors and police forces, forcing many to delay business transactions, serve customers through analog means or even flock to coffee shops where they could find Wi-Fi.

The company did not offer any explanation as to what caused the outage, the expected duration, how many customers were affected or where they were located.

“Our technical teams are working to restore our services in conjunction with our global technology partners and are making progress,” Rogers said in a statement.

“We know how much you trust our networks. We let you down today. We’re working to fix this as quickly as possible. We’ll continue to keep you updated, even when services come back online.”

Toronto’s Go Transit said in a tweet that parts of its system were affected by the outage and that fares could not be purchased with debit or credit cards. E-tickets may also not be available, he warned.

Among the most serious impacts were warnings from police in Toronto and Ottawa about connection problems when Canadians called 911.

“If your call fails, please try again or call from a landline or cell phone with another provider,” Ottawa Police said on Twitter.

The blackout forced The Weeknd’s tour stop at Toronto’s Rogers Center to be postponed. The Toronto date was one of only two set for Canada.

Scarborough Health Network, which operates three hospitals and eight satellite sites in Toronto, asked doctors and staff to report to their work sites for any shift they are scheduled to be on call until the outage is resolved.

In Quebec, some judicial matters were stymied. Peter Nygard’s appearance in Montreal court on sex-related charges was postponed because the fashion mogul, who is being held in a Toronto jail, was unable to connect by video conference. His bond hearing will now take place next week.

Service Canada tweeted that it was also affected by the disruption of affected call centers and offices, including those that issue passports.

The disruption will exacerbate passport backlogs that have left Canadians queuing outside Service Canada offices for long periods of time as the government works on a backlog.

The Canada Border Services Agency has warned that people may not be able to complete shipments through the ArriveCAN app, a mandatory requirement for all cross-border travellers.

Many retailers and businesses were also facing problems trying to accept payments because Interac, which processes electronic financial transactions, said its online debit and payment offerings and electronic transfer services were affected.

As a result, the Confederation Bridge, which links the provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, was unable to accept debit cards on Friday morning. Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan, Ontario, said amusement park attendees could only pay with credit cards. They were told on Facebook that they should be able to access e-tickets on their phone or bring paper tickets to the park, if they visit on Friday.

Downdetector, a website that tracks outages, showed that people began reporting problems with Rogers’ service around 4:30 a.m. EDT and 20,000 reports had been logged by 7 a.m.

Many Rogers customers scrambled to find internet service and headed to coffee shops to connect and exchange stories about the blackout.

Kathryn Bowen, 30, an independent fashion designer, spent Friday morning on the floor of a Starbucks in Toronto’s financial district, video conferencing with clients.

“I don’t really know where to go because if I go home, I don’t have internet,” Bowen said. “I can’t even go out and text anyone because Rogers doesn’t work on my phone either, so I just sit here until my phone basically shuts off.”

Roseanna Chen, 27, also relied on a coffee shop after her workplace’s internet service was affected by an outage, but found that the coffee shop’s wireless network became unstable as it filled with people.

“We’re trying to see if (office Wi-Fi) comes back,” said Chen, an accounting associate at Imperial PFS Canada. “If not, we’ll probably try to go back home, but my internet at home is also out.”

The country’s telecommunications sector is dominated by three major carriers, Rogers, BCE Inc. and Telus Corp., and their dominance in the industry has long been a concern of academics, who have called on regulators to increase competition for mobile and Internet services in Canada. .

“The outage is shining a light on the general lack of telecommunications competition in Canada,” said Vass Bednar, executive director of McMaster University’s master’s program in public policy.

Federal Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a statement that the government was monitoring the situation closely and had told Rogers “how important it is that this matter is resolved as soon as possible and that the company provides prompt communication.” and clearly directly to those”. shocked.”

Meanwhile, the Public Interest Advocacy Center has asked the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission to launch an investigation into the outage under the Telecommunications Act. The commission said it was reviewing the request.

Telus was not affected by the outage, but Rogers’ rival warned that some customers may experience “slower than normal” data speeds due to increased usage by customers without internet access at home.

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