TORONTO -- Many Canadians were without internet and mobile service Friday due to a widespread network outage. This disrupted police, court and business services. People flocked to coffee shops offering Wi-Fi and rushed to get work done.
Rogers Communications Inc. stated that it began restoring service late in a day and that its teams were "working hard to get everyone online as soon as possible."
The outage started in the morning, and lasted into the evening. It disrupted services at retailers, credit card processors and police, courts, airlines, and train 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 understand how important you depend on our networks. We have let you down today. We are doing our best to fix this as soon as possible. We will keep you informed about when services will come back online and we will keep you posted.
Toronto's Go Transit tweeted that some parts of its system had been affected and that it was not possible to purchase fares using credit or debit cards. It also warned that e-tickets might not be available.
Canadians dial 911 to alert police in Ottawa and Toronto of possible connection problems.
Ottawa Police tweeted that "If your call does not work, please call again or use another phone number.
The Rogers Centre in Toronto was forced to postpone The Weeknd's Toronto tour stop due to the outage. Only two dates were available for Canada, including the Toronto date.
Scarborough Health Network operates eight satellite locations in Toronto and three hospitals. It requested that staff and physicians report to work for any on-call shifts, until the disruption is over.
Peter Nygard, a Quebec fashion mogul, was unable to connect via video conference and put off his Montreal court appearance for sex-related charges. His bail hearing will take place next week.
Service Canada also tweeted that it was affected by the outage. Call centers and offices including those that issue passports were also affected. This outage will exacerbate the passport delays that have seen Canadians lining up in front of Service Canada offices for long periods of time while the government deals with a backlog.
Canada Border Services Agency advised that some people might not be able complete submissions via the ArriveCAN app, which is a mandatory requirement for all cross border travelers.
Interac, which handles electronic financial transactions, caused many businesses and retailers to have difficulty accepting payments.
The Confederation Bridge, linking the provinces of Prince Edward Island to New Brunswick, couldn't accept debit cards Friday morning. Canada's Wonderland, Vaughan, Ontario stated that amusement park visitors could only pay by credit card.
Downdetector is a website that records outages. It showed that people began reporting problems with Rogers' service at 4:30 AM EDT, and that by 7 AM, there had been over 20,000 reports.
Rogers customers were scrambling to get internet service. Many went to coffee shops to share their stories and connect with others.
Kathryn Bowen (30), a fashion designer and independent, spent Friday morning at a Starbucks in Toronto's Financial District, videoconferencing with clients.
Bowen stated, "I don’t know where I should go, because I don’t have internet at home." "I cannot even go outside to text someone because Rogers doesn’t work on my phone, so I’m basically just sitting here until it dies."
Roseanna Chen (27 years old) relied on a coffee shop after the internet outage at her workplace. However, the cafe's wireless network became unstable due to the influx of people.
Chen, an accountant associate at Imperial PFS Canada, stated that they are trying to determine if the office Wi-Fi is working again. "If it doesn’t, we’ll likely try to head home, but my internet is out at home.
Three large telecom companies dominate the country's telecom sector -- Rogers Corp., BCE Inc., and Telus Corp. This has been a problem for academics for years. They have called for increased competition in Canada's mobile internet services.
Vass Bednar is the executive director of McMaster University’s master of policy program. "The outage is illuminating Canada's general lack of competition for telecommunications," he said.
Francois-Philippe Champagne, Federal Industry Minister, stated in a statement that Rogers had been informed by the government that it was closely monitoring the situation and that Rogers had requested that the matter be resolved quickly. The company should also provide prompt and clear communication to all those affected.
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre meanwhile urged the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (under the Telecommunications Act) to investigate the outage. The request was being reviewed by the commission.
Telus was not affected by the outage but Rogers' rival warned that customers might experience slower than normal data speeds due to increased usage by customers who don't have access to the internet at home.