Business

Rogers CEO announces new protocols, investment in wake of major service outage

Rogers Communications on Sunday announced new steps it will take to avoid a repeat of what happened during a nationwide service outage on July 8.

Telecom aims to separate wireless and internet, switch 911 calls with other carriers

Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri is seen in Toronto in April 2013. (Matthew Sherwood/The Canadian Press)

Rogers Communications on Sunday announced new steps it will take to avoid a repeat of what happened during a nationwide service outage on July 8.

In a letter to customers, CEO Tony Staffieri outlined the company's "enhanced reliability plan" in response to the outage, which left millions in Canada without cellphone and internet service — some for days — and prompted questions and concern from the federal government and regulators.

On 911 calls, which were disrupted in many parts of the country during the outage, he said Rogers is working on a formal agreement with competitors "to switch 911 calls to each other's networks automatically — even in the event of an outage on any carrier's network."

Rogers has said on its website that customers can call 911 without a SIM card at any time, but it's unclear if that would have worked during the outage.

On the wireless and internet front, Staffieri pledged the company will "physically" separate those services to create an "always on" network so customer won't experiences outages for both at the same time — something that happened to many on July 8. 

WATCH | Outage shows need for telecom Plan B, analysts say: 

Staffieri also said the company will invest $10 billion over the next three years on such things as oversight, testing and artificial intelligence.

"I know that it is only through these actions that we can begin to restore your confidence in Rogers and earn back your trust," Staffieri said.

The letter to customers comes two days after a letter Rogers sent to Canada's broadcasting regulator was released detailing the cause and immediate aftermath of the service outage.

Rogers told the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that coding from an update to its network deleted a routing filter that "allowed for all possible routes to the internet to pass through the routers," which flooded and overwhelmed the core network, causing it to stop processing internet traffic altogether.

The letter met a deadline by the CRTC for Rogers to answer questions about the outage, but it has many redactions where Rogers is believed to have offered more specific details.

On Monday, officials from Rogers and a slew of other stakeholders are set to appear at a parliamentary committee in Ottawa to further explain the cause of the outage and to outline the steps they are taking to make sure it won't happen again.

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