Major Canadian telecoms network operators have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Telecommunications Reliability ‘to ensure the reliability and resiliency of communications networks that are a significant lifeline for those in need during natural disasters, network failures and other impactful emergencies.’ The action was ordered by Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne in response to a massive outage on the Rogers network in July. Participating companies – Rogers, Bell, Telus, Eastlink, Cogeco, SaskTel, Shaw (including Freedom Mobile), Tbaytel, Telesat, Videotron, Xplornet and Zayo – agreed to three main Protocols: Emergency Roaming; Mutual Assistance; and the Emergency Network Outage Communications Protocol.
The Minister noted that, from 9 September: ‘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. As part of this agreement, the companies also commit to providing clear and timely communications to keep Canadians and appropriate authorities informed about response and restoration during major network outages.’
A series of additional steps are being worked on, including:
The Canadian Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (CSTAC) is examining further measures (within six months) to ensure robust and reliable telecommunications networks across the country.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is pursuing a detailed investigation of Rogers’ recent outage, including new measures the latter is putting in place.
Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada (ISED) is reviewing appropriate regulatory measures to be implemented aimed at strengthening the reliability and safety of networks.
Work on a Public Safety Broadband Network is also progressing.