A widespread outage at Rogers Communications Inc. that caused problems for 911 services, retailers and transit operators on Friday prompted many to warn that the incident is a sign that monopolistic telecommunications companies need more competition.
“The outage is shining a light on the general lack of telecommunications competition in Canada,” said Vass Bednar, executive director of McMaster University’s master’s program in public policy.
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The country’s telecommunications sector is dominated by three major carriers, Rogers, BCE Inc. and Telus Corp., and their dominance in the industry has long been a concern of academics, who have called on regulators to increase competition for mobile and Internet services in Canada. .
The Competition Bureau is currently fighting Rogers’s plans to buy Shaw Communications Inc. for $26 billion despite the planned sale of its Freedom Mobile business to Quebecor Inc. because the regulator feels the deal would only strengthen the monopoly of Rogers and would not create a viable fourth operator. .
When the outage began on Friday, Rogers, Shaw and the Competition Bureau had just finished a two-day mediation period that ended with no resolution.
Rogers network is down in much of Toronto and parts of Canada
The company did not provide any explanation for the expected outage or duration, the number of customers affected and the location, but promised that technical teams are “working hard to restore services as quickly as possible.”
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When everything from 911 services to GO Transit is affected by an outage from Rogers, the reach of telecommunications companies is all too obvious, Bednar said.
“But unless we see people switch carriers today or new public options suddenly emerge, there’s not much more we can do at this point other than perhaps factor in people’s anger and frustration, as the deal Rogers-Shaw slope is considered.”
He added that people should be compensated for the interruption.
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“It’s a huge expense for Rogers, but even a modest decrease in people’s bills would recognize some sort of shortfall.”
Rogers said in a statement Friday afternoon that some customers had already raised the issue of loans.
“Of course, we will proactively accredit all customers and share more information soon,” the statement said.
Beanfield, an independent fiber network operator, called the outage “every telecoms provider’s nightmare” but said it was also an example of why it has long been concerned about the lack of rivals to Rogers, Telus. and ECB.
Rogers customers face service outages across the country
“Lack of competition and choice can lead to a building with a small town population going completely dark, cut off from all communications,” the company said on Twitter.
“If you can’t even get help from a neighbor, where do you go? What do you call 911?
The business implications are also tremendous, the company added.
A list of services in the Toronto area affected by the massive Rogers outage
“The consequences of such a disruption for the financial sector, the lack of working ATMs, of working bank branches, can be catastrophic,” he said.
“Not to mention independent companies across the country with no way to process payment.”
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