A countrywide wireless outage left customers of Rogers Communications Inc. with intermittent access to call and texting services on Monday.
In an update posted to its website, Rogers said the cause of the issue is a recent Ericsson software update that affected equipment in the central part of its wireless network.
“We have addressed the software issue and our engineering and technical teams will continue to work around the clock with the Ericsson team to restore full services for our customers,” the update reads.
Rogers said it may take several hours to fix the issue and get everything back to normal.
Rogers wireless calls, SMS & data services are starting to return to normal for our customers. It will take several more hours for all customers and regions to return to full service. We will continue to work around the clock with our network partner Ericsson until that happens.
— RogersHelps (@RogersHelps) April 19, 2021
According to Down Detector, a website that tracks outages, problems are being reported from coast to coast, including on Vancouver Island.
E-Comm 911, a call taker service for much of southern Vancouver Island’s emergency responders, said while wireless customers affected by the outage can still place 911 calls, they are unable to receive a callback.
“When we do receive those 911 calls, critical caller information details, including the caller’s phone number and general location information — details that would normally be provided to our call takers — those details are just not available right now because of the ongoing outage,” explained Jasmine Bradley, director of corporate communications at E-Comm 911.
Bradley added the best thing to do would be to call from a landline or a cell phone with a different service provider. If that’s not possible, people can call on their Rogers, Fido or Chatr network, but will need to give information on where they are as soon as they can.
“If that call were to get disconnected for whatever reason, at least we would have that information so we could send help,” Bradley said.
The service interruption also affected Island Health’s phone systems, including their COVID-19 testing call centre. In a statement to CHEK News, a spokesperson for Island Health said they are currently experiencing longer-than-normal wait times for people to receive a call back to book a COVID-19 test and “actively working on strategies to work around” the ongoing technical issues.
Rogers owns a national wireless network that does business under the Rogers, Fido and Chatr brands. Those on Zoomer Wireless and Cityfone were also affected.
Some have expressed frustration on social media, noting that they rely on the wireless service as they work from home under ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’re in another major lockdown here in Ontario and economically that’s far less disruptive … than stopping people from being digitally connected,” Chamberlin said.
The outage had broad economic ramifications across Canada, including impacting business operations, sales and payments and the ability for people to work remotely, experts say.
“It’s a very big deal,” said Tyler Chamberlin, assistant professor at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa. “It can have very big consequences on our economy.”
According to an investor page on the Rogers website, the telecommunications company provides both postpaid and prepaid wireless services to about 10.9 million consumer and business subscribers in the Canadian wireless market.
Rogers did not immediately respond to a request for more information.
With files from The Canadian Press.