My life without Rogers

Every now and again a blind pig finds an acorn

In hindsight, I guess I found that acorn. Read on.

On Saturday, I had that running through my mind as I was out and about doing my thing. There were signs on every place of business indicating the various online services were down – most noticeably Interact and direct debit payments.

As we were driving into town, we noticed one of the first businesses was obviously hurting. The car wash, which normally has a lineup of cars four or five deep, had nobody. I had parked under a tree previously and a bunch of birds had left their marks all over the car. Sweet. I swing in and my wife gave me a funny look. I’ve become my father! I have a little change purse in the console; one for $1 and $2 coins and another for $.10 and $.25 coins. I paid exact change and my car is mostly clean and shiny and bird-evidence free.

Our ultimate goal was to do some shopping for tops for my wife and perhaps a new pair of shoes for me. Sadly, the store didn’t have my size shoes but the helpful worker offered to check other stores for me. She had a nice-looking device but sadly, the internet connection wasn’t available. She’d made the offer out of habit, I guess. We did find some nice tops for my wife and having money in my wallet paid off. In cash. I take a great deal of heat from my kids “Dad, you’re a computer nerd, why don’t you use direct payment?”

In your face, kids.

It was actually kind of quiet on the phone front since two of them are on the Rogers network and out of touch. The two girls got together so that the older one could call and interrupt our shopping trip for some reason. They all ended up at our place and quickly attached to our wifi to get caught up with their friends.

When Bell had pulled fibre down our concession road, we immediately ditched our old slow service and haven’t looked back. While we were in at The Source, not only did we get internet access there but my wife and I both got phones on the Virgin network.

So, I guess we were a little smug since there wasn’t an interruption for us.

Someone had to take responsibility for this and the Rogers CEO stepped up.

Rogers CEO apologizes for massive service outage, blames maintenance update

It’s kind of amusing actually to watch the news and hear the pundits selected to be guests to share their thoughts. The biggest message that I’ve heard is that Canada needs more competition in this industry. I don’t follow their logic; that wouldn’t stop a network outage although it might have lessened the impact with fewer people on a Rogers network or a network that shares services with Rogers.

We may never know for sure the exact reasons for the problem that brought down the network. There was a lot of speculation on social media and initial fingers were pointed at hackers. The latest, as you’ll see in the link above, was a maintenance update.

Boy, that brought back memories of not-so-good times as we tried to roll out a wide area network in my old school district. We had great successes, followed by periods of problems when the network would crap out and we’d hear that it was because of updates. We ultimately ended up using my two computer PD labs as sandboxes to play in and try things out before sending an update out to an entire system. Obviously, it’s a smaller scenario than a coast-to-coast-to-coast network like Rogers.

It was great to see those reports on this Sunday morning as I write this post telling us that the network is back up and running.

Watching the news reports and how people were scrambling around outside coffee shops looking for that precious WIFI signal reminded me of how much we value being connected. It didn’t affect me in the first person this time but it certainly impacted those around me.

I was surprised that an update would be put into place to bring down a nationwide service. Providing that service is mission-critical and I would have thought that any update would have been played out in some sort of sandbox or testing scenario or even rolled out in increments so that it could be rolled back if there were issues.

I was also surprised that there wasn’t a gentleperson’s agreement with Bell or another supplier that they could share service for a short time if a catastrophe like this happened. I know that they all fight and advertise for every subscriber they can but reliable service is crucial.

I hope that Rogers, Bell, and all the providers are learning from this experience. It kind of brings a smile to think that a person might not be able to update their Instagram status because the network was down. Thrown into all of this was the inability of some people to call 911. That’s where it really hit the fan for me. I honestly don’t know if there is a public telephone booth in town anymore.

How were things in your world? Were you impacted by the outage?

And, whatever you do, don’t let the bad guys win.


6 thoughts on “My life without Rogers

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts around this outage. I don’t have a cell phone, so I wasn’t impacted in that way, and my home phone and Internet were good too. My biggest impact is that I was supposed to have a virtual meeting with my principal for the camp to go over some details for this Wednesday’s training. She’s only connected through Wifi, so we are meeting online today instead. I also needed to grab some groceries, so had to get cash out of the machine. A reminder for me to have some cash on hand. I hope that others share their stories too.


    P.S. I like your idea around supporting each other if this were to happen again. I hope that these companies explore this possibility.


  2. I was completely without any means of communication, no phone, text, or Internet. What I thought was a landline turned out to have been switched to VOIP when I bundled my services (according to some sources). In any case, it didn’t work. I had no means of finding out what was going on other than my talking to my neighbours. They were in a similar fix and didn’t know much more.

    If I wanted to communicate with someone I would have to get in my car and drive to their place. (My car radio isn’t working BTW.)

    Later in the afternoon I did go to my granddaughter’s home. Her mom hadn’t been able to work from home as she had no connection. They were taking a flight or a couple of days later and didn’t know if that would be affected (fortunately it wasn’t).

    I heard that cash machines were running out of money. I don’t know if I’d have been able to call 911. Fortunately I didn’t have put it to the test.

    I now have a list of things I must do or get to prepare for another similar eventuality, including purchasing a plug-in/battery radio, returning to the practice of having a minimum of cash on hand (lapsed during the pandemic), trying to get back to a landline (not easy, I heard). There may be more.

    The experience wasn’t just an inconvenience, it left me feeling very isolated and vulnerable.


  3. Good morning, Doug!

    No direct impact on me, as I’ve not been with Rogers for over a decade or more. I think I switched to Rogers back when they had a year’s lead over the competition in bringing the iPhone to Canada, but switched back to Bell within a year or two as I had found their signal around here was typically better. My cable internet here is with Cogeco, and it was fine through the Rogers outage.

    I did, however, follow the various news reports and interviews that resulted. It was amusing to hear of younger folks who used an ATM for the first time in their lives, and see photos of folks congregating at Starbucks throughout the country so they could get online. I gather a good number might have been there for work, but the pics of folks standing outside Starbucks with their cell phones looked more like people getting their requisite social media fix. (After the wind storm a few weeks back, power was out in the east end of Belleville, and I will confess to driving over into the powered half of the city to get a cellular connection to download some movies. So yeah. It’s noticeable when the Internet is out.)

    The larger issue, however, of the dependence of our banking/payment and government services upon one specific carrier — is problematic. Over the years we have seen governments propping up critical sectors at various times to keep the country going — alternately supporting and then selling them off again. Air Canada, PetroCanada, Bell Canada (at some point, I’m sure, back in the day), all in the name of maintaining a Canadian presence/functionality/service in important sectors. Depending on the financial state of the government coffers (and the political party in power) the comfort with farming out essential functions to local/third party interests can have an ebb and flow.

    The Canadian military is federal, and many of the provinces rely on the RCMP for policing (still federal), but the larger provinces have their own provincial police. I guess the large airports share multiple jurisdictions. A lot of former Ontario provincial functions have been offloaded/contracted out — Service Ontario, Driver’s License testing. Health Care and Education are teetering on the cusp of seeing elements there farmed out to third party corporations.

    You get what you pay for.

    Given the outages experienced last week, I would hope that federal and provincial governments are taking stock of the balance between saving money and providing essential services, and doing an assessment of any gaps that need be addressed. More competition in the telecommunications industry can distribute the load over more carriers — but having redundancies built into critical infrastructure seems more important.


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