Canada To Examine Network Resiliency In Rogers-Shaw Merger

Canada’s industry minister has said the government will examine the issue of network resiliency before approving the merger of Rogers Communications with Shaw Communications, following a massive outage earlier this month.

The unprecedented 8 July network outage began with a software update to Rogers’ core network, according to the company, which caused an unexpected chain reaction that made debit payments, emergency services and government services unavailable to Rogers customers for most of the day.

The company’s chief technology officer, Ron McKenzie, told the Canadian parliament last week that the update pushed large amounts of traffic onto the core network.

‘Flooded brain’

“The core of the network you can think of as the brain of the network that controls all access of flow of information and flow of connectivity for all services,” McKenzie said.

He added that when the core became “flooded” it shut down.

Lawmakers and regulators are concerned that a lack of competition in the country’s telecoms sector contributed to the incident, and have so far continued to block the Rogers-Shaw merger, which was announced last year.

In Canada three operators control about 95 percent of the market and consumers pay amongst the highest bills in the world.

‘Alternative and choice’

Industry minister Francois Philippe Champagne told a Canadian parliamentary committee investigating the network collapse that it was necessary for the country to strengthen resiliency.

Rogers chief executive Tony Staffieri told lawmakers that the merger would allow the combined entity to invest more in telecoms resiliency.

At last week’s hearing, in response to a question by Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Staffieri said Canadians have “alternative and choice” in telecoms.

Erskine-Smith replied, “You’re saying that with a straight face?” before moving on to other questions, according to the CBC.

Network investment

Rogers has announced a C$10 billion (£6.5bn) investment into its network over the next three years that includes separating wireless and internet services, so that a glitch in one network will not take down both cellular and internet services as occurred in the recent outage.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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