Canada’s major telecommunications companies have entered into a formal agreement to “provide and guarantee” emergency roaming and other forms of mutual assistance in the event of a major outage.
“In the future, should any of these providers experience a major network outage, the other companies are committed to providing the support and assistance needed to ensure Canadians can reach loved ones, access 911 and carry out commercial transactions,” said François-Philippe Champagne. , Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, told reporters at a cabinet retreat in Vancouver on Tuesday.
“As part of this agreement, the companies also commit to providing clear and timely communications to keep Canadians and relevant authorities informed of response and recovery during major network outages.”
The deal comes after a massive service outage from Rogers Communications Inc. on July 8 affected millions of Canadians.
In the days following the outage, Champagne asked the CEOs of Rogers and other telecommunications companies to come up with a backup plan to avoid a similar scenario, giving them 60 days to do so.
Rogers was unable to transfer customers to competing carriers during the unprecedented service outage, despite offers of assistance from Bell and Telus.
It also was unable to shut down its radio access network, which would have automatically connected customers to another carrier for 911 calls.
And in a letter requested by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in August, Rogers said it did not have the data needed to determine the exact economic losses caused by the outage.
Many businesses have been impacted by the disruptions.
Champagne noted that the agreement is only a first step in its network resilience program, which involves building accountability and preparedness.
He also said additional steps were being taken, including asking the Canadian Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (CSTAC) to propose further measures within six months to ensure robust and reliable telecommunications networks across the country.
“We are not going to rest. Trust me. We are going to hold them accountable and take whatever steps we can to build resilience,” he told reporters.
Champagne also reiterated that the outage will be top of mind as he considers and reviews Rogers’ proposed $26 billion buyout of Shaw Communications Inc.
When asked if he would use his powers to intervene as Rogers manages the Competition Bureau’s concerns about the deal and to keep the whole process from dragging on, he said he wouldn’t. wouldn’t.
“My job is to protect the interests of Canadians and when it’s my turn, we’ll definitely make that clear,” he told reporters.
A telecommunications industry analyst recently predicted that the process would continue until mid-2023.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 7, 2022.