Rogers network outage hits millions of Canadians and sparks outrage

  • Rogers dominates Canada’s telecoms sector
  • Banking services down, transportation disrupted
  • The outage renewed criticism of competition in the telecoms sector

TORONTO/OTTAWA, July 8 (Reuters) – A major network outage at one of Canada’s largest telecoms operators cut off access to banks, transportation and government services for millions all day Friday, sparking outrage from customers and drawing criticism of Rogers Telecommunications (RCIb .TO) Industry dominance.

Almost every aspect of life was disrupted, with the outage impacting internet access, cell phone connections, and landline phone connections. Some callers were unable to reach emergency services through 911 calls, police across Canada said.

Canadians working from home crowded into cafes and public libraries that still had internet access, and hovered outside hotels to pick up a signal. Canada’s Border Protection Agency said the outage has affected its mobile app for arriving travelers. Retailers’ cashless payment systems went down; Banks reported problems with ATM services.

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Rogers said it would issue credit to affected customers. Its shares closed up 73 cents at $61.54 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Later Friday, Kye Prigg, a senior vice president at Rogers, told the CBC the company has “no ETA as to when the issue will be fixed” and is still working to identify a cause.

“I don’t want to say whether it will be fully online today or not,” he said.

A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Friday night that the outage was not the result of a cyber attack.

The disruption also complicated transportation and flight bookings at the height of the summer travel season.

According to spokesman Sau Sau Liu, Transport Canada has not received any reports of direct safety impacts on flights, sea or rail services as a result of this outage.

The stoppage was Rogers’ second in 15 months. It started around 4:30 a.m. ET (0830 GMT) and knocked out a quarter of Canada’s observable internet connection, the NetBlocks monitoring group said.

“Today we let you down. We are working to get this sorted out as soon as possible,” Rogers said in a statement.

With approximately 10 million mobile customers and 2.25 million retail internet customers, Rogers is the leading operator in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province and home to the largest city of Toronto. Rogers, BCE Inc (BCE.TO) and Telus Corp (T.TO) control 90% of the market share in Canada.

Canadian Industry Minister Fran├žois-Philippe Champagne tweeted that the situation was “unacceptable” and said he was in touch with telecoms CEOs, including those at Rogers, Bell and Telus, to find a solution.

Canadian financial institutions and banks, including Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) and Bank Of Montreal (BMO.TO), said the outage disrupted services. The Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) said its ATMs and online banking services were affected.

General view of the Rogers Building, home of Rogers Communications in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 22, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

A spokesman for Vancouver International Airport, which is among Canada’s busiest, said travelers would not be able to pay for parking, use terminal ATMs or buy items from airport vendors.

Air Canada (AC.TO), the country’s largest airline, said its call center was affected. Airlines in Canada, as well as in Europe and the United States, have experienced high call volumes due to flight cancellations and delays due to staffing shortages during the pandemic. Continue reading

Pop star The Weeknd announced Friday night that its tour stop at Rogers Center Stadium has been postponed due to service outages affecting the venue’s operations.

“I’m devastated and heartbroken. I was at the venue all day but with Rogers out it’s out of our hands,” the singer tweeted.


Critics said the outage showed the need for more competition in telecoms.

Earlier this year, Canada’s competition regulator blocked Rogers’ attempt to acquire rival Shaw Communications (SJRb.TO) in a $20 billion deal, saying it would hamper competition in a country where telecom rates are increasing belong to the highest in the world. The merger is still awaiting a final verdict. Continue reading

“Today’s outage highlights the need for more independent competition that will drive more network investment, making outages far less likely,” said Anthony Lacavera, chief executive of Globealive, an investment firm that bid for a wireless carrier involved in the Rogers/Shaw Deal was involved.

On Friday, some government agencies canceled services after losing internet access, including Canada’s passport offices and the telecoms regulator. The Canada Revenue Agency, the country’s tax collection agency, lost phone service.


Toronto stores and restaurants are putting up “Cash Only” signs on their doors. Residents crowded in and around a nearby Starbucks coffee shop, which offers free Wi-Fi on an unaffected network.

“There are a lot of people here with their laptops working like crazy just like they would at home because they don’t have service at home,” said Starbucks customer Ken Rosenstein.

In downtown Ottawa, Canada’s capital, cafes like Tim Hortons wouldn’t accept debit and credit cards and turned away customers who didn’t have cash.

Michelle Wasylyshen, spokeswoman for the Retail Council of Canada, said outages would vary from one retailer to the next: “Cash will certainly be king in many stores today.”

While the disruptions were widespread, several companies and transport points said their services were unaffected. The Port of Montreal reported no disruptions. The Calgary Airport Authority said it has “no major operational impact.”

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Reporting by Yuvraj Malik, Eva Matthews, Shubham Kalia and Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Catherine Jackson in Washington; Divya Rajagopal and Chris Helgren in Toronto; Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; writing by Rami Ayyub and Aurora Ellis; Edited by Shinjini Ganguli, Jonathan Oatis, David Gregorio and Leslie Adler

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.