Rogers outage causes internet and Interac debit interruptions

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On July 8, Rogers Wireless and Fido customers woke up to an unwelcome inconvenience – their cell phones had no service, leaving them without the ability to make calls, send and receive text messages, and access the internet through cellular data. What may have seemed like an isolated problem was anything but isolated – soon, people across Ontario were being informed that Interac debit service was down, leaving cash and credit as the only available payment options.

The cause of the outage was initially suspected to be a data breach, which did occur in Rogers’ systems earlier this year, but not in Friday’s case. A hacker group even shared a post, masquerading as Rogers, claiming that a data breach had occurred and that service restoration was not expected until at least July 11. In reality, the outage was cause by a system failure after a routine update.

Concerns were shared about interruptions to 911 service as a result of the outages. Local authorities suggested that if a call to 911 failed, the best option would be to try a landline phone instead, or a cell phone not serviced by Rogers or Fido. No actual reports of tragedies resulting from a failure to connect with 911 were reported.

Some customers had their service restored as early as the next morning. By late in the day Saturday, Rogers reported that only about 1% of customers were still experiencing intermittent connection issues. A post in a local social media group pointed out that any angry Rogers customers thinking of switching to Telus as an alternative carrier could get a $100 bill credit.

Locally, the internet outages caused some individuals hardship as they had limited ability to work from home. Small businesses were scrambling to post signage alerting customers ahead of time that debit service was down, particularly businesses offering drivethru service, to prevent customers from becoming stuck in line for nothing. Despite signage, some individuals could be seen pulling past the take-out windows in some drive-thru locations without stopping, suggesting that they had not noticed the signs upon entering the lineup. News reports of “chaos” in Toronto as a result of the outages show just how different urban living can be from small town living, as the problem appears to have been perceived as inconvenient, but minor, locally.

As is common in our community, locals were great at helping each other out during the outage, particularly with identifying which stores had debit service restored. The problem now appears to be fully resolved.

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