Reliance on connectivity disconnects

By Darren Lum

Walking through the woods early in the morning, it’s clear by the cacahopony of calls by birds that they can communicate as long as they have their voices.
In our high tech world where communication goes beyond our line of sight and the strength of our voices, the demands for connection requirements are met by two corporations. The issue about this dependence came to light when Canadian mobile and internet giant Rogers Communications experienced the national outage on July 8, affecting millions of Canadian residents and businesses, who were left without service to complete purchases with debit cards and E-transfers, access to the internet, complete phone calls and send texts to loved ones and customers.

This outage included many Haliburton County businesses and employees featured in Vivian Collings’ story, Rogers outage causes an onslaught of problems, who depend on this connectivity. Days of productivity and thousands of dollars were lost.
Even CanoeFM’s Radiothon was left behind with callers unable to complete their calls the first day of their three-day fundraiser. While others who work from home remotely were behind in their scheduled timelines of work, service provider Kegel Heating and Cooling lost access to both their internet and phones. Kegel is considering becoming a StarLink customer when it’s made available – StarLink is the Elon Musk initiative, which provides global high-speed, low-latency broadband internet in remote and rural locations utilizing a constellation of satellites.

Days after the outage, there were still some 25,000 customers in Toronto area who were still having outage issues and thousands outside the GTA.
From a CBC report, Rogers said the outage was caused by a network system failure following a maintenance update in its core network. Rogers notified customers they would be credited for five days of lost service to compensate for the disruption. There are 11.3 million Rogers subscribers in the Canadian wireless market.
This is the second time the company has experienced a major outage in as many years.

Concerns about this don’t just end with Rogers customers.
Several weeks ago the Derecho storm knocked out Bell’s services to customers, leaving people wandering the Village of Haliburton, who hoped for a signal for their smart phones. Also, visitors relying on GPS for navigation needed the assistance of Welcome Centre staff in Head Lake Park to get home.
All of this has added to the anxiety of people, who are reliant on connectivity to find their way, stay in touch with friends and family, but also businesses and for emergency assistance.
It’s worth noting in an article posted by MobileSyrup noted how the emergency back up action to enable connection to 911 didn’t happen because the cell towers remained functional during the outage. However, customers still did have the option to remove their SIM card to call 911, if needed. Typically this isn’t necessary, but with this scenario it proved to be the case, but it wasn’t communicated to the public and left people to find alternate means to communicate, whether with other people’s phones or hardlines.
Canada’s Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Francois-Phillipe Champagne said there would be a CRTC investigation in to the outage following the Rogers’ outage. By July 12, the commission ordered Rogers to answer questions about the outage.

CTV reported on July 15 parliamentarians on the House of Commons Industry and Technology committee voted unanimously to study the Rogers outage with at least two meetings scheduled before July 30.
Although it’s been reported that Minister Champagne demanded all of the national communications companies to collaborate and develop agreements to help one another when it comes to emergency roaming and provide improved communication when it comes to outages, that solution will take time.

For the present, the solution is not known and, hopefully, time will bear out a solution. Until then, the public will have to wait and see and can pretty much only hope it doesn’t happen again.