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Major telecoms sign deal to keep some phone services running during future outages

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Canada’s major telecommunications companies have signed a formal agreement that could halt the worst effects of major blackouts like the one that hit Rogers Network in July, the federal government said Wednesday.

As part of the deal, the major carriers agreed to support and assist their competitors during future major network outages, so customers could make calls, access 911 emergency services, and conduct business. You can

The companies also agreed to provide “clear and timely communication” to customers during the outage.

Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Industry, said at a press conference in Vancouver, “Telecommunications companies have responded to our call to take meaningful action to increase and improve the reliability of our network.

“Rogers’ suspension on July 8 is clearly unacceptable and we must continue to do everything we can to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.”

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The Rogers outage, which began in the early hours of July 8 and lasted for days for some customers, left millions without mobile phone or internet service. The company later said the outage was caused by an error during an internal system update.

Champagne said he was unhappy with the level of communication Rogers provided during the suspension.

“They should have been more positive,” he said.

Watch: Champagne talks to CBC’s Power & Politics about telecommunications deals

‘I don’t think they will pass the cost on to consumers’: Minister of Innovation and Industry

François-Philippe Champagne, Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry, said the cost of remediation due to wireless network outages would not be passed on to customers.

Champagne said he was visiting Japan during the blackout and reached out to Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri to tell him what happened.

“I don’t think ministers should try to contact telecom CEOs when there is a major blackout in the country. I think it should be the other way around,” he said.

Contract may not restore service for all affected customers

Champagne touts the deal as a way to keep Canadians and businesses connected to critical networks during outages, but industry experts said it would be impossible during a major disruption. ing.

The new deal calls for making “emergency roaming” on a competitor’s network available to customers affected by the outage.

John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel for the Public Interest Advocacy Center in Ottawa, said that in the event of an outage like the one Rogers recently experienced, carriers would likely have to pay everyone they were not served. He said he would not have the ability to provide the service.

“It’s highly unlikely that all customers of the affected provider will be able to find roaming on another carrier,” he said. It will not be like

Rogers President and CEO Tony Staffieri and Chief Technology and Information Officer Ron McKenzie attended the House Standing Committee on Industry and Technology in Ottawa on Monday, July 25, 2022. (Adrian Wilde/Canadian Press)

Lawford also criticized federal regulators for being slower than U.S. regulators.He said the new Canadian deal would essentially replicate Plan announced by the Federal Communications Commission on July 6 — Two days before Rogers’ suspension.

“It should have been in place a long time ago,” he said. “Our CRTC regulator was sleeping at the switch.”

Champagne explained that the new binding agreement is just the “first step” in Ottawa’s plan to improve credibility and accountability in the industry.

The government said it gave Canada’s Security Telecommunications Advisory Board six months to come up with further measures “to ensure robust and reliable telecommunications networks across the country.”

Mr Champagne said Ottawa will also push forward with plans to build a new public safety broadband network to be used in emergencies.

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