A disruption of wireless voice service at Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc.'s Freedom Mobile that began on Sunday caused a range of dropped customer calls, including those to 911 emergency operators.
The outage across Rogers’s and Shaw’s voice network, which started in early Sunday afternoon, caused emergency calls to fail. Rogers said that a “limited number” of customers on the 2G and 3G network were affected, while Shaw said that the disruption affected “many” customers. The companies were still working on Monday to restore complete service.
“Teams are working hard to fully resolve the issue and we sincerely apologize to our customers,” Rogers spokesperson Michelle Kelly said. Rogers posted a notice about the issue to its online customer-service forum on Sunday.
Shaw spokesperson Chethan Lakshman said that “many customers" were "unable to place or receive wireless voice calls.”
“Our technicians have been actively managing the network and working to fully restore wireless voice services. Some customers may still experience intermittent wireless voice service," he said.
Rogers and Shaw declined to comment on the cause of the network issue.
The London Police Service and Chatham-Kent Police Service in Ontario recommended over Twitter on Sunday that 911 callers on the Rogers network use other carrier services or find a landline. The Toronto Police Service also said that it experienced failed emergency calls, but that police were dispatched when necessary.
Rogers said that 911 service was restored to all customers on Sunday night. Shaw did not immediately respond to questions about 911 service.
While a voice-service interruption of this type is rare, 911 contact methods need to be updated to provide options other than through a call centre, according to Manish Nargas, a consumer and mobile research analyst at IDC Canada.
In 2017, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission asked telephone and wireless companies to update their networks in preparation for next-generation emergency services, referred to as NG-911. The CRTC, which regulates phone service providers, is planning to make the upgrades – which would support 911 services through voice, photos, videos and text message – mandatory by 2020.
“From a consumer perspective, if I couldn’t make a voice call then I could easily make a data call,” Mr. Nargas said. “It’s time to find some sort of regulation across all regions to follow one level of service or adapt to include all different types of mediums.”
BCE Inc. and Telus Corp. customers were unable to connect calls with Rogers customers because of the outage.