Opinion: The Rogers network outage proves Ottawa’s case for fourth network


Men and women use electronics outside a espresso shop in Toronto amid a countrywide Rogers outage, impacting many of the telecommunication firm’s companies on July 8.Cole Burston/The Canadian Press

When Rogers Communications Inc. RCI-A-T networks went down for the next time in as many decades previous Friday, paralyzing considerably of the country, lots of Canadians reacted with dark humour.

“Has Rogers tried turning their procedure off, then on all over again? Or, like, unplugged their modem, waited 5 seconds, then plugged it again in?” explained one wag on Twitter. An additional tweet claimed: ”Rogers remains on maintain, waiting to converse to their possess tech help. So considerably, they’ve been reassured that irrespective of unusually substantial get in touch with volumes, their phone is vital and will be answered in precedence sequence.”

Regrettably, wonky wireless and online providers are no joke.

When a person telecom company’s tools routine maintenance woes shut down 911 crisis calls, banking and other vital expert services throughout the nation, the community plainly requirements a fix. Rogers understands what is at stake. “We allow you down,” main government Tony Staffieri explained on the weekend in a letter to customers and all Canadians. “You have my personal determination that we can, and will, do much better.”

What must regulators do to keep away from an additional network failure? That issue is prime of mind for François-Philippe Champagne, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, who satisfied practically with telecom CEOs on Monday afternoon to discuss procedure dependability. And what bearing, if any, should really Friday’s outage have on Rogers’s bid to rewire the telecom field by attaining Shaw Communications Inc. SJR-A-X?

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The answers to people thoughts are related.

1st off, retain in brain that the Rogers outage on Friday only influenced its shoppers, together with cellphone services resellers these kinds of as TekSavvy that piggyback on Rogers’s network. Rivals these types of as the Bell BCE-T, Telus T-T, SaskTel and Quebecor QBR-A-T platforms continued to run.

In which TekSavvy competes though creating small investments in infrastructure, these “facilities-based” rivals combat to get shoppers on to their possess networks. What transpired final Friday exhibits how vital redundancy can be in an essential support. As telecom expert Mark Goldberg mentioned Monday in a website publish, “Last week’s network failure should really provide to reaffirm Canada’s telecom coverage endorsing services-primarily based competition.”

To boost opposition between vendors – making certain reduced price ranges and responsible provider – Canadians don’t want far more resellers. They have to have a lot more robust facilities-based mostly companies, co-ordinated to present seamless emergency services.

There is no way to produce a perfect network. Telecom systems will once in a while crash, as do electric grids or cloud pc networks. In the telecom sector, government’s aim need to be minimizing disruptions that appear with issues on any just one platform.

“While arguments for elevated competitiveness to cut down foreseeable future failure hazard abound, the exact same arguments could use to many other industries in Canada, such as electric powered or gasoline distribution,” analyst Maher Yaghi at Scotiabank reported in a report on Monday. “Failure points in systems have often existed, regulatory oversight having said that needs to stability the possibility of future failures from the amplified purchaser/economic expenditures in developing other parallel networks.”

Which brings us to Rogers’s bid for Shaw. Previous month, the two organizations introduced plans to sell Shaw’s Independence Cell cellphone platform to Quebecor Inc. for $2.85-billion. Rogers reluctantly agreed to this divestiture to appease level of competition concerns from governing administration regulators, including the Competitors Bureau.

Quebecor would initially share networks with Rogers in markets this sort of as British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, in which Independence Cell operates. Even so, in excess of time, the Montreal-based mostly company can establish its possess facilities throughout the region and share the price of developing new networks with Rogers. Preserve in brain that Bell and Telus have a similar sharing arrangement on infrastructure these kinds of as telecom towers.

Friday’s outage should be a wake-up get in touch with to the Competitors Bureau and Mr. Champagne: Additional financial investment is required in the telecom sector. Blocking Rogers’s bid for Shaw will not produce competitiveness, and as the Shaw family has explained – loud and obvious – they will no longer dedicate money to Freedom Mobile.

Quebecor as a fourth national cellphone provider makes sense for aggressive causes, by each definition, which include the nation’s require for sturdy, responsible support.

More than extra than a decade, the business has crafted a monitor record for offering services to 22 for each cent of the Quebec sector. Approving a Rogers takeover that tends to make Quebecor a properly-capitalized, inspired national player aids guarantee a far more dependable wi-fi community.

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