Canada directs telecoms to assist each other in emergencies after Rogers outage

FILE PHOTO: The Rogers Building, the green-topped corporate campus of Canadian media conglomerate Rogers Communications is seen in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada July 9, 2022. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canadian Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne on Monday said he has directed telecom companies to assist each other in emergencies and develop communication protocols to keep people better informed after Friday's massive outage at Rogers Communications Inc.

The Rogers network outage disrupted nearly every aspect of daily life, cutting banking, transport and government access for millions, and hitting the country's cashless payments system and Air Canada's call center.

"So in essence, what I've demanded and expect the telecom companies in Canada is to enter to a formal agreement within 60 days up to date, at maximum," the minister said in a call with reporters on Monday.

The outage also complicated Rogers' chances of getting antitrust approval for a C$20 billion ($15.39 billion) acquisition of rival Shaw Communications after Friday's major nationwide disruption highlighted the perils of Canada's effective telecom monopoly and sparked a backlash against its industry dominance.

"I think people in Canada and certainly the CEOs of the telcos in Canada understand that I've said very clearly and openly that I will not allow the wholesale transfer of licenses from Shaw to Rogers and I think this is well understood," Champagne said on Monday.

The outage came two days after Rogers held talks with Canada's antitrust authority to discuss possible remedies to its blocked Shaw takeover.

The minister also told Rogers to compensate its customers for the outage that it blamed on a router malfunction after maintenance work.

Canada’s telecommunications regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, will probe the outage, he added.

($1 = 1.2999 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil and Kanishka Singh; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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