Since about 4:30 a.m. on the morning of July 8, 2022, customers have been reporting outages of their Rogers services, including Internet and cellular. Now well into the afternoon, the services are still out nationally with no resolution in sight nor potential cause for the disruption identified (though some speculate it could be a software update gone wrong). And while this is a nuisance for those who have Rogers Wireless devices, Internet, and TV at home or in the office, the problem extends far beyond that into businesses, like retail.
The outages are impacting not only homeowners and retailers, but also banks, police emergency lines, hospitals, and other businesses that are unable to do everything from accept debit payments to access customer information. Chances are you can’t access credit card balances, toll booths are being impacted, GO Train ticket purchases, 911 calling, and more.
Rogers acknowledged the outage of its wireline and wireless networks in a statement noting that its “technical teams are working hard to restore services as quickly as possible.”
As at 3:33 p.m. on July 4, the service is still non-functional. The outage is also affecting other service providers that piggyback on the Rogers network as well, like Teksavvy.
The Cashless Society
The outage comes at an interesting time when we have been eyeing the concept of a cashless society. Not only are we doing away with bills and pocket change, but even trying to store all our cards, and even credentials, in digital wallets on our phones. What happens when these wallets can’t be accessed and we have no other means of payment to rely on?
Already today, stores are posting signs saying they can only accept credit cards or cash but no debit payments due to the machines being down. Ontarians visiting theme parks like Canada’s Wonderland are reporting wait times on social media as long as two hours just to gain entry as a result of a slowdown while the park has confirmed that e-tickets must be printed or displayed on the device. The park, which recently went cashless refusing to accept anything but credit and debit cards for everything from concessions to games, still won’t accept cash and is now limited to only credit cards. What happens to the teenagers there with friends who only have debit cards to pay?
Meanwhile, work-from-homers who have Rogers Internet at home are leveraging the wireless connection of local coffee shops as a desperate means of being able to get their work done. Speaking of which, if you plan to check out a concert and have e-tickets that aren’t already saved to your phone, chances are you’ll be rushing to print them or head to a local Staples to get them printed to ensure you can gain entry. Hint for the future: always take a screen shot of your e-ticket and code so it’s accessible without requiring an Internet connection.
Highlighting Canada’s Lack of Wireless Competition
Further, the outage highlights ongoing discussions about the lack of wireless competition in Canada. Rogers is one of the Big Three wireless carriers in Canada alongside Bell and Telus. The company has 10 million wireless subscribers and 2.25 million Internet subscribers. The three together control 90% market share in Canada.
Last month, Rogers and Shaw agreed to sell Freedom Mobile to Quebecor for $2.85 billion, which had many wondering if it was the right move and if this would actually accomplish anything in terms of helping increase competition in the Canadian wireless market. No one was as vocal about their concerns as Anthony Lacavera, founder of Globalive and WIND Mobile, who claimed that his company offered Rogers $900 million more to purchase back Freedom Mobile (which was formerly WIND Mobile) but his offer was not accepted. He claims Rogers is “afraid to complete” and “shopped this deal to a succession of billionaire friends and friendly parties who won’t compete with them and are willing to sell Freedom back to them at any time.”
Following the outage, Lacavera was quick to comment again: “Today’s outage illustrates the need for more independent competition that will drive more network investment so outages are far less likely.”
No Resolution Timeline in Sight Yet
In a recent update, Rogers reported on its Twitter account that its “technical teams are working to restore our services alongside our global technology partners and are making progress.
“We know how much you rely on our networks,” the statement adds. “Today we have let you down. We are working to make this right as quickly as we can. We will continue to keep you updated, including when services will be back online.”
Rogers also confirmed on Twitter that it would be crediting customers proactively as a result of the outage and will “share more information soon.”
As we mull over the outage (if you can get online to even read this article, that is), the Rogers sale of Freedom Mobile to Quebecor remains under review by the Competition Bureau and the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry (ISED). While this outage is a separate situation that has nothing to do with that deal, it does provide fuel for the fight being lit by individuals like Lacavera who believe the situation is yet another reason why competition is so desperately needed in the Canadian market.”Canada needs true independent competition to ensure our networks are world-class so that these situations do not happen,” added Lacavera.
As at 8:15 p.m. on Friday, July 8, 2022, Rogers services have not yet been restored in all regions, though some users and homeowners are reporting that they have limited connectivity.