Breaking: has learned that Canada’s telecommunications regulator has hired a private consulting firm to investigate the massive Rogers outage last summer that left more than 10 million customers without cellphones or Internet access.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) confirmed in an email that it hired engineering consultant Xona Partners in May to provide a report on the Rogers network and “help inform what additional regulatory measures are needed.”
Xona is asked to investigate what happened during the outage and whether action has been taken Rogers has since been able to avoid another one.
He contract offer It asks the investigator to conduct a “forensic-level technical review” of Rogers’ networks, interview key employees and visit its operations centers in Toronto.
The CRTC will not say how much it paid Xona, but indicated the report is expected this fall.
“The CRTC will soon review the findings and release the report to inform Canadians and stakeholders,” a spokesperson wrote in a second statement following nearly a week of requests from Breaking: for more details.
Critics say the CRTC should have acted sooner and done its part to investigate the Rogers outage, which some say lasted days.
“It’s like sending investigators after the body cools down,” said John Lawford of the Public Interest Advocacy Center, a nonprofit consumer rights group that has been lobbying telecommunications companies and the CRTC. to be more honest about the blackouts.
“We can’t see how that engineering firm is doing its job. We also don’t know if the final report will be made public, or redacted, or mostly confidential, or partially confidential. And I think the public would like to know. Just the thing. that happened in Rogers.”
‘Shrouded in secret’
The crisis, which began on July 8, 2022, shut down critical telephone and Internet services, from government and commercial offices to Interac purchases and, above all, emergency services.
In one case, a Hamilton woman suffered a fatal stroke because a family member failed to call 911.
Days later, the CRTC ordered Rogers to provide details about what happened, including which government services were affected.
The response that Rogers launched It was very worded. due, according to the company, to client confidentiality.
An expert on trade secrets and confidential information says the CRTC’s entire review of the outage has been “shrouded in secrecy.”
Matt Malone, assistant professor at Thompson Rivers University School of Law, has tried without success for more details through freedom of information requests about how 911 services were affected during the outage.
Rogers has said it cannot provide that data because it could put the network at risk from bad actors.
“Roger invokes these security concerns very broadly to prevent the disclosure of really basic information like how many 911 calls were dropped,” Malone said. “That’s information Canadians universally would want to know.”
“There is a lot of secrecy in this file, but it is important to remember that that secrecy is intentional. Secrecy helps both the CRTC and Rogers avoid liability,” he said.
“At some point, the idea is that it will fade enough into the past that Canadians will forget about it.”
‘Improvements and safeguards’
Rogers declined CBC’s interview request. In a statement, the company said that since last summer it has completed a full review of its network.
“We have implemented several improvements and safeguards. We will continue to work with the CRTC to ensure Canadians have access to reliable telecommunications services and timely information,” wrote Rogers spokesperson Zac Carreiro.
Carreiro noted steps Rogers has taken since the outage, such as working to separate its wireless and wireline networks and conducting extensive reviews of its network architecture and safeguards to provide the “highest level of resiliency.”
Carreiro also pointed to a memorandum of understanding that the telecommunications companies signed last September. Under pressure from the federal government, Rogers and other providers agreed to support each other during future major network outages.
Meanwhile, the CRTC has introduced temporary rules requiring Internet, phone and cable providers to notify the regulator within two hours of a major outage affecting more than 100,000 customers. In February the CRTC also began consultations on how it should further regulate the way telecommunications report major service outages. Filings closed six months ago, but on Monday the CRTC reopened presentations include sign language.