A disconnected Canada shouldn’t happen again, and that’s what pushed the government, together with national telecom providers, to guarantee emergency roaming, mutual assistance and a communications protocol for quick and clear advisories during major outages and other emergencies.

The Honorable François-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and industry, confirmed that a formal agreement has been reached as an immediate action to improve network reliability across Canada, this coming 60 days following the massive Rogers network outage in July.

“As of September 9th, should one of these providers be faced with a major network outage, the other companies have committed to provide the support and assistance necessary so that Canadians can reach loved ones, access 911, and conduct business transactions,” Champagne explained.

Bell, Eastlink, Cogeco, Rogers, SaskTel, Shaw, Tbaytel, Telesat, TELUS, Videotron, Xplornet and Zayo, signed the MoU which states the following specifics in cases of a critical network failure:

  • Emergency Roaming Protocol. Emergency roaming consists of domestic voice, text and data roaming services on an emergency basis. Within nine months (until June 2023), the operators can enter into bilateral emergency roaming agreements, with whom they have overlapping networks, to address this protocol.
  • Mutual Assistance Protocol. Mutual assistance may consist of one or more types of temporary assistance, in whole or in part. These include sharing of physical assets, logistical support, human resources and licensed spectrum.
  • Emergency Network Outage Communications Protocol. Communications under this protocol are based on the principles of providing timely, relevant and understandable information in a clear and accessible manner.

“The agreement reached between Canada’s major telecommunications companies is only a first step. We have an ambitious telecommunications resiliency agenda around three pillars: robust networks and systems, coordinated planning and preparedness, and strengthening accountability,” the Canadian minister added.

Additionally, the Canadian Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (CSTAC) has been directed to come up with further measures within six months to ensure robust and reliable telecommunications networks across the country while the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) continues to pursue a detailed investigation of Rogers’ recent outage.

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