Canada: Blackout leaves many without mobile internet service

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TORONTO — A widespread network outage left many Canadians without mobile and internet service for most of Friday, disrupting law enforcement, business and court services as crowds flocked to work in cafes with Wi-Fi.

Rogers Communications Inc. said it began restoring service late today and said its teams are “working hard to get everyone back online as quickly as possible.”

The outage began early in the morning and stretched into the evening, disrupting services from retailers and credit card processors, police and courts, airlines and rail networks.

The company did not provide any explanation as to what caused the outage, how many customers were affected, or where they were located.

“We know how much you rely on our networks. Today we let you down. We are working to remedy this as soon as possible. We will continue to update you, including when the services are back online. ″

Toronto’s Go Transit said in a tweet that parts of its system were affected by the outage and fares could not be purchased with debit or credit cards. E-tickets may also be unavailable, he warned.

Toronto and Ottawa police warned of connection issues when Canadians dialed 911.

“If your call fails, please try again, or call from a landline or cell phone with another provider,” Ottawa Police said on Twitter.

The outage forced the postponement of The Weeknd’s tour stop at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. The Toronto date was one of only two set for Canada.

The Scarborough Health Network, which operates three hospitals and eight satellite sites in Toronto, has asked doctors and staff to come to their workplaces for any on-call shifts until the disruption is resolved.

In Quebec, Peter Nygard’s appearance in court in Montreal on sex-related charges has been postponed because the fashion mogul, who is being held in a Toronto jail, was unable to connect via videoconference. His bail hearing will now take place next week.

Service Canada tweeted that it was also affected by the outage, with call centers and offices, including those that issue passports, affected. The outage risks exacerbating passport backlogs that have left Canadians queuing outside Service Canada offices for long periods as the government resolves a backlog.

The Canada Border Services Agency has warned that people may not be able to complete submissions through the ArriveCAN app – a mandatory requirement for all cross-border travellers.

Many retailers and businesses struggled to accept payments as Interac, which processes electronic financial transactions, said its online debit and payment offerings and electronic transfer services were affected.

As a result, the Confederation Bridge, which connects the provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, was unable to accept debit cards Friday morning. Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan, Ont., said amusement park goers can only pay with credit cards.

Downdetector, a website that tracks outages, showed people started reporting issues with Rogers’ service around 4:30 a.m. EDT and by 7 a.m., 20,000 reports had been logged.

Many Rogers customers scrambled to find internet service, heading to cafes to connect and swap stories about the outage.

Freelance fashion designer Kathryn Bowen, 30, spent Friday morning on the floor of a Starbucks in Toronto’s financial district, video conferencing with customers.

“I don’t really know where to go because if I go home I don’t have the internet,” Bowen said. “I can’t even go out and text anyone because Rogers doesn’t work on my phone either, so I’m just sitting here until my phone dies.”

Roseanna Chen, 27, was also relying on a cafe, after her workplace’s internet was hit by the blackout, but found the cafe’s wireless network becoming unstable as it filled up people.

“We’re trying to see if (the office Wi-Fi) comes back,” said Chen, associate accountant at Imperial PFS Canada. “If not, we’ll probably try to get home, but my internet at home is down as well.”

The country’s telecommunications sector is dominated by three major carriers – Rogers, BCE Inc. and Telus Corp. — and their hold on the industry has long been of concern to academics, who have called on regulators to increase competition for mobile and internet services in Canada. .

“The outage highlights the general lack of competition in telecommunications in Canada,” said Vass Bednar, executive director of McMaster University’s Masters in Public Policy program.

Federal Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a statement that the government was monitoring the situation closely and had told Rogers “how important it is that this matter be resolved as soon as possible and that the company provides fast and clear communication directly to those impacted.

Meanwhile, the Public Interest Advocacy Center has asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to initiate a Telecommunications Act investigation into the outage. The commission said it was reviewing the request.

Telus was unaffected by the outage, but rival Rogers has warned some customers may experience ‘slower than normal’ data speeds due to increased usage by customers without access to Internet at home.

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