A major outage affecting top telecoms provider Rogers Communications’ mobile and internet networks caused widespread disruptions across Canada on Friday, including for banking, calling, cashless payments to businesses, and even policing.
“We are currently experiencing an outage across our wireline and wireless networks and our technical teams are working hard to restore services as quickly as possible,” Rogers said in a statement.
A quarter of Canada’s internet connections were “knocked out,” according to data from NetBlocks, an internet watchdog group.
Rogers is Canada’s top mobile carrier, with more than 11 million wireless subscribers and nearly three million internet users – collectively controlling along with Bell Inc. and Telus Corp. almost 90 percent of the wireless market.
It was not immediately clear if the Rogers outage was caused by a breakdown in telecommunications equipment or a cyberattack.
Evan Koronewski, a spokesman for the Communications Security Establishment, a government agency responsible for cybersecurity and signals intelligence, told AFP it has “offered assistance” to the company.
Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said his office has also contacted Rogers, and would “continue to monitor the situation closely and use any tools at our disposal to ensure Canadians stay connected.”
Police in several cities including the capital Ottawa and Toronto – Canada’s largest metropolis – warned that people were unable to call 911 for emergencies due to the outage.
The city of Montreal also said its municipal services line was down.
Across the country, Rogers customers complained about not being able to make calls or use the internet.
Several major banks said money transfers and cashless payments could not be processed. Telephone and online banking, as well as ATM withdrawals were also affected. RBC tweeted that the outage was “affecting all financial institutions in Canada.”
Coffee shops and retailers in several city centers posted signs saying they were accepting “cash only” for purchases.
And Canada Border Services Agency tweeted that arriving travelers would have to use paper forms to provide mandatory travel and public health information, as its mobile app had been affected by the outage.