Major carriers reach agreement to keep phone service amid potential outages

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Customers who experience an outage will be given access to “emergency roaming” on a rival network, according to the new deal. In the case of an outage similar to the one Rogers just experienced, carriers probably won’t have the capacity to provide services to everyone without service, according to John Lawford, executive director and general counsel of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre in Ottawa.

“When there is a significant outage in the nation, I don’t believe the minister should be attempting to contact the CEO of a telecoms company. I believe that it should be reversed “said him. Service may not be restored for all impacted consumers under the agreement. Champagne touts the deal as a method to maintain Canadians’ and businesses’ access to vital networks during outages, but an industry expert claims that won’t be possible during significant breakdowns.

Highlights

  • Champagne described the new binding agreement as merely the “first step” in Ottawa’s plans to improve reliability and accountability in the industry. The government says it has given the Canadian Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee six months to come up with further measures “to ensure robust and reliable telecommunications networks across the country.”

  • “It’s very unlikely that all of the customers of an affected provider will be able to find roaming on another carrier,” he said. “It’s not going to be like a backup network when there’s a true outage like in July.” Rogers president and CEO Tony Staffieri and Ron McKenzie, chief technology and information officer, appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry and Technology, Monday, July 25, 2022 in Ottawa.  Lawford also criticized federal regulators for moving more slowly than their U.S. counterparts. He said the new Canadian agreement essentially replicates a plan announced by the Federal Communication Commission on July 6 — two days before the Rogers outage.

Champagne said Ottawa will also forge ahead with a plan to build a new public safety broadband network to be used in emergency situations. Nick Boisvert is a multimedia journalist at the CBC’s Parliamentary Bureau in Ottawa. He previously covered municipal politics for CBC News in Toronto. You can reach him at nick.boisvert@cbc.ca.

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