Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne says policy makers will take into account last week’s massive service outage at Rogers Communications Inc. as they weigh the telecom’s proposed $26-billion takeover of Shaw Communications Inc.
At an event in Calgary on Friday, Mr. Champagne told reporters that the service disruption, which impacted payment systems and 911 services and left millions of Canadians without cellphone, home phone or internet connections, is “going to be on the mind of the different people who need to make a decision” about the merger, which would combine Canada’s two largest cable networks.
The outage highlighted the Toronto-based telecom’s prevalence in Canada just as the company is trying to persuade federal regulators that the Shaw takeover won’t harm consumers by reducing competition.
The Competition Bureau is attempting to block the deal, arguing that it will result in poorer service and higher prices, particularly for wireless customers. In an attempt to address the competition watchdog’s concerns, Rogers has struck an agreement to sell Shaw’s Freedom Mobile, Canada’s fourth-largest wireless carrier, to Quebecor Inc. for $2.85-billion.
Mr. Champagne’s department, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, is tasked with reviewing the transfer of wireless licences associated with the contested takeover.
Also on Friday, the House of Commons committee on industry and technology adopted a motion to study the outage, which began early in the morning on July 8.
The committee, which is made up of members of Parliament from all four major federal parties, plans to review the cause of the disruption, as well as the impact it had on families, consumers and businesses.
The committee will also consider measures to prevent future outages, and to ensure that the public receives timely information about them when they happen.
There will be at least two meetings dedicated to the study before July 30. The committee will invite representatives from Rogers and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to appear, as well as Mr. Champagne. It will report its findings to the House of Commons.
Rogers has said the service disruption was caused by a coding error during a maintenance upgrade to its core network, which caused the telecom’s routers to overload and its core gateway to shut down.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has given Rogers until July 22 to respond to dozens of detailed questions relating to the outage. And Mr. Champagne has instructed wireless carriers to implement a framework that would require them to assist each other during network outages, provide customers with emergency roaming on their networks and follow a communications protocol to ensure consumers are kept informed.
Rogers spokesperson Chloé Luciani-Girouard said in a statement that the company will work with members of the committee “to provide details on the cause of the outage and the actions we are taking to enhance the reliability of each of our networks moving forward, including through formal mutual support agreements.”
“We understand the significant disruption and frustration our outage caused Canadians, and we will make every change and investment needed to help ensure it does not happen again. We are wholly committed to working alongside the government and regulators to improve network resilience for all Canadians.”
With a report from The Canadian Press
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