Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

A cell tower outside the One Mount Pleasant Road offices of Rogers Communications in Toronto.

Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

A massive wireless outage that has left customers of Rogers Communications Inc. without phone or texting services since early Monday has broad economic ramifications across Canada, experts said.

“It’s a very big deal,” said Tyler Chamberlin, assistant professor at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa. “It can have very big consequences on our economy.”

In addition to personal communications, experts said the outage is impacting business sales and services such as food delivery and curbside pickup, payments that require a wireless connection and the ability for people to work remotely.

Story continues below advertisement

The service interruption could also have health implications, with some Rogers customers saying they’ve been unable to book or check-in for medical appointments.

Rogers spokesman Andrew Garas said the national wireless carrier is working to fix the issue.

“We know how important it is to stay connected and are working hard to restore services for customers who are experiencing interruptions with wireless voice and data,” he said in an email. “We sincerely apologize and thank our customers for their patience.”

Residential and business wireline internet services — also referred to as wired or broadband internet — are not impacted, Garas said.

According to Downdetector, a website that tracks outages, problems are being reported in most major Canadian cities.

Although the ongoing service disruption appears concentrated in southern Ontario, an outage map suggests the service problems span the country from British Columbia to Nova Scotia.

Users have said they have been unable to place or receive cellphone calls or text messages since early Monday morning.

Story continues below advertisement

Rogers owns a national wireless network that does business under the Rogers, Fido and Chatr brands.

It’s one of Canada’s big three wireless carriers along with Bell and Telus.

The massive outage could flame concerns about telecommunications consolidation and costs in Canada, Chamberlin said.

“It’s infrastructure, it’s equipment and it’s going to fail here and there,” he said. “But the fact that we’re paying more than most of the consumers around the world would suggest that our tolerance for outages like this is probably quite limited.”

According to an investor page on the Rogers website, the telecommunications company provides both postpaid and prepaid wireless services to about 10.9 million consumer and business subscribers in the Canadian wireless market.

Some of those users expressed frustration on social media, noting that they rely on the wireless service as they work from home under ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

Story continues below advertisement

“We’re in another major lockdown here in Ontario and economically that’s far less disruptive ... than stopping people from being digitally connected,” Chamberlin said.

Toronto resident and communications specialist Rachael Collier, a Fido customer, said she first noticed her phone wasn’t working Monday morning when she tried to make a doctor’s appointment.

“I thought my call wasn’t going through because so many people are trying to get vaccines today,” she said during a Google Meet interview.

“Then I realized I couldn’t make any calls,” Collier said. “They’re saying it’s intermittent but my phone hasn’t worked all day. It’s clearly an absolutely massive outage.”

With her home internet still working, Collier said she’s been able to work as usual. But she’s worried about how the wireless outage is impacting people trying to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I’m concerned that on the first day of vaccination appointments basically opening, people who are relying on their phones to make an appointment have been cut off,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

Milton resident Deep Mehta said he hasn’t had service for more than 12 hours.

“It’s frustrating because I’m trying to operate a business from home and that’s the number that everyone has,” he said. “I just had to take my son to the orthodontist and I couldn’t check in on my phone.”

Several emergency services organizations explained that while wireless customers can still place 911 calls during a service interruption, they are unable to receive a call back.

“People should still continue calling 911 for emergencies and remain on the line until an operator speaks to them,” Cpl. Caroline Duval, an RCMP spokeswoman, said in an email.

“They should also watch for updates/direction from their local police (including local RCMP where we are the police of jurisdiction) as well as Rogers for updates regarding affected areas.”

Winnipeg Police said on Twitter that Rogers and Fido customers will still be able to call 911 but must remain on the line to speak with an operator.

Story continues below advertisement

Peel Regional Police said on Twitter that if Rogers customers call 911 they should remain on the line as operators are unable to call back.

“We are experiencing several 911 drop calls that require followup,” Waterloo Regional Police also said on Twitter. “Please do not hang up if you call 911. Stay on the line so we can make sure you’re okay.”

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies