Rogers wireless outage a blessing in disguise

11 Oct
Blond Boy Crying

“I want my text to go through and I want it to go through now!”

I’ve never really cared for service outage stories, such as the big one that hit Rogers’ wireless network on Wednesday. The fact is, even the most solid and seemingly foolproof systems break down every once in a while. It happens to telecom companies, it happens to Google, it happens to Netflix, it happens to BlackBerry, it happens to everyone. It’s only if the resultant outage is prolonged, or if it happens frequently, that it should be grounds for concern.

I was as inconvenienced as anyone else was during this latest outage. I was trying to make plans to pick up a teammate for our Wednesday night volleyball game and was having a heck of a time trying to get in touch. I’m not on Rogers but she is – our calls weren’t going through and texts were slow to make it, if they did at all. To make matters worse, the highways around Toronto were jammed (as usual) with accidents. It was a sort of perfect storm cluster%#$@, as the curse words flying in my car attested to.

And then I took a deep breath. I asked myself, what was the worst that could happen? The answer: my teammate wouldn’t make it to the game, at which point we would have to recruit someone from another team to fill in. Well now, that wouldn’t have been the end of the world, would it?

There were doubtlessly many people who had significantly more important situations – perhaps even life-threatening – complicated because of the outage, but I suspect that for the vast majority it was a minor inconvenience at best. A lot of complainers, some of whom harassed a poor guy in New York who just happens to have the Twitter handle @Rogers, were just expressing their sense of entitlement without even knowing it.

For some reason, we have this expectation that everything needs to work whenever we want it to, and if it doesn’t we lose our minds. Sure, Rogers and other telecom companies often do much to deserve the wrath of their customers, so it’s understandable that some people fly off the handle easily when it comes to this stuff.

But realistically speaking, there are so many ways to communicate these days that it’s not hard at all to get in touch with someone if there’s something truly important at stake: email, text message, cellphone call, landline call, Facebook message, Twitter message, Skype – heck, maybe even a payphone. Many of those options don’t depend on wireless services at all, and vice versa. If everything goes down at once, well then telecom woes might be the least of our concerns – it could very well mean we’ve been hit with an electromagnetic pulse ahead of an invasion by North Korea.

And having said that, if a particular communication isn’t that important, maybe we should look at the outage as a blessing in disguise. After all, how often do we get any peace and quiet these days?


Posted by on October 11, 2013 in rogers


5 responses to “Rogers wireless outage a blessing in disguise

  1. Justin

    October 11, 2013 at 7:12 am

    The sense of entitlement to always be connected was forced upon us by the cell phone industries.. Yes there are other forms of media to get in touch with people however when your cellphone is the major source of your communications to family who do not live close to you and some of your family members are sick and you need to talk to them you want something that is connected to talk to them and the cell companies force you to believe that they are superior to anything so you expect them to always be ready for you to be always connected.

    If your smart with your money you gave up your land line phone to have a cell phone that is always with you because we were also made to believe that you should have a cell phone in case of emergencies. Having both land line and cell phone are to expensive to have and who wants to go to that cold disease ridden pay phone and pay the outrageous long distance charges and stand there stuck to this box by a cord.

    To further this one step I believe that the issues people have with rogers and most other cell companies are deeper then just being without service. example, I opened up my bill a few mths ago because the bill was a little bit higher then normal. Looking at my bill it showed a text to the US for .35c nothing anywhere on the bill showed this text and the charge the bill did show all my normal txt charges. I called rogers and the rep says nope you did it, however I will goodwill credit you for it I said ” I don’t want your goodwill credit because this is not a goodwill situation, if you can explain when and where I texted then Ill pay it with no issues”. He argued with me some more and I stood my ground because there is no way I would ever txt the US and for only one txt to be charged its ludicrous so He goes away for quite sometime comes back and says yes it is actually a known system issue. Ill just credit that back for you. Now imagine that I know it sounds like nothing and really .35c is a drop in the bucket considering how much we get raped over our cell phone costs but think about it this way if 1,000,000 customers are charged .35c the company by that mistake just got $350,000 richer over their system glitch (this 1,000,000 customers is only an example last I read rogers has 9.376 million wireless subscribers) . They do not go back and credit those people. Instead its your responsibility to read your bills and if you didn’t read that bill in last 3 months then you will never get that credit back.

    To say that you don’t understand where the entitlement comes from I’m shocked because with all the mass marketing that these companies put out there that clearly raises our expectations of their service and the price hikes that they say is to build this superior services (when we full well know that the company is not well run) how can anyone wonder where entitlement comes from.

    The only people that I feel sorry for or give credit to are the ones that work in the call centre having to deal with being improperly trained and having to deal with irate customers all day..

    • Peter Nowak

      October 11, 2013 at 10:55 am

      Yes, but like I said, the occasional outage happens to everyone regardless of what they charge or how they market their services. People freak out when Gmail goes down and they pay nothing for it!

      • Michael Elling (@Infostack)

        October 11, 2013 at 11:33 am

        It’s also the principal reasons that as we go to more and more commercialization of communications sessions or events, the true buyers will demand redundancy and backups. They’ll even pay for “reserve” space on separate networks as insurance. Between wired and wireless there will always be multiple last mile connections, despite what the monopolies say.

  2. russellmcormond

    October 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    The outage I’m more concerned about is the cable-Internet outage in various parts of Ottawa. The people I know affected are Teksavvy customers, and this appears to be part of the ongoing problems they have been having with government mandated last-mile suppliers.

    I see it different when the company you actually subscribe to has an outage that affects their own customers (and reputation), compared to when a supplier who sees you as a competitor has so many extended outages.

    I can say “structural separation” as often as I like, but it seems until we get this we will continue to have these problem.

  3. Blessed? Thank the gods I'm not a Rogers customer.

    October 11, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Ignoring Rogers “cluster%#$@”, as you so eloquently put it, by dropping TekSavvy customers offline for over three days, let’s address the entitlement issue …

    Rogers likes to boast about the reliability of their network. TELUS wants you to believe you should be paying the world’s highest rates because of their wonderful network. The wireless companies want you to move solely to wireless and drop that quaint landline or at least replace it with their VoIP service.

    It is Rogers and their ilk who are asking us to pay big bucks and trust them to deliver reliable service.

    No doubt you’ve heard of the “2 hours downtime in 40 years”, or 99.9994% uptime used as a reliability metric for telco switching gear. Rogers can’t even approach this reliability level yet they expect us to pay vast sums of money for inferior service. They let the wireless service in my neighbourhood degrade to the point of being useless with no discount or shortening of my contract.

    “… it happens to Google, it happens to Netflix, it happens to BlackBerry, it happens to everyone.”

    Google services are predominately free so we can’t expect reliability even though there are those silly enough to do so. Netflix is dirt cheap and is very reliable.

    But seriously, you’re holding BlackBerry up as a poster boy for a great company that is victim of the odd glitch? RIM gave the telephony industry a black eye with their repeated, extended outages and lackadaisical attitude to those outages or preventing future ones. Engineers working at the “real” telcos cringed whenever a RIM CEO opened his mouth about the latest outage.

    Remember Mr. Sillyballs comment in 2009 about the BlackBerry Storm cluster%#$@? “…RIM hustled and got the phone out the door just barely in time for Black Friday, knowing that there were still problems with the stability of its operating system. Far from being apologetic, however, Balsillie said it’s just the “new reality” of making complex cell phones in large volumes — getting it out will always trump getting it right.”

    RIM’s idea of quality is an embarrassment to the industry.

    Yes, every company will screw up. When it comes to critical services like telecommunications, service outages that break through the redundancy in the network need to be infrequent and short. Rogers’ customers are right to be incensed. A glitch is one thing. A nation-wide, multi-hour outage is unacceptable. At least Rogers’ CEO had the decency to apologize and he only did that because it hit the national news.

    Now, to dearest Nadir Mohamed, where is your acknowledgement and apology for the extended outage to TekSavvy customers? I cannot believe that Rogers techs are so incompetent that routine maintenance will cause a 3-day outage affecting only TekSavvy customers and not neighbours on Rogers. This can only be malicious action to drive up TekSavvy’s support costs or even drive them out of business.

    If you expect me to cut Rogers some slack, they have to earn it first.

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