Network outage affects services and retailers in Brantford-Brant

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A widespread network outage for Rogers Communications customers has had a significant impact on service providers, retailers and residents of Brantford and Brant County.

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Dr. David McNeil, president and CEO of the Brant Community Healthcare System, said Friday that while internet coverage is good at BCHS facilities, the outage is impacting on-call teams.

“Anyone who uses Rogers, we can’t reach them through this mechanism,” he said. “We’re going back to the old school with pagers, and we’ve purchased a number of cell phones to put on another provider’s network for those doctors and other staff, who may be disconnected.”

McNeil said 20 cell phones were purchased Friday morning because a surplus of phones were unavailable and paging systems were a thing of the past.

BCHS has 15 medical services which have an on-call physician in addition to management staff.

“This is the second time Rogers has come out in less than a year, I think, so we’ll have to think about making sure we have a contingency like this still available because so many people are out of land lines.” , he said.

“If you don’t have a phone and can’t use 9-1-1, for all of us, it’s a lesson learned to make sure we have those emergency plans for ourselves,” said McNeill. “It’s something to think about as a community in terms of emergency preparedness.

A notice on the Toronto-based telecommunications company’s website says the outage affected both its wireless and home service customers, as well as phone and chat support.

“Our technical teams are working hard to restore services as quickly as possible,” Rogers spokesman Zac Carreiro said in an email.

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Neil Vanderpost, deputy paramedic chief for Brant-Brantford, said the outage impacted their central communications center and computer-aided data transmission systems that run through Rogers.

“When the dispatcher (9-1-1) receives a call and enters it through the keypad, it is automatically forwarded to our teams in vehicles on our difficult books (tablets) and cell phones,” he said. “This complete system is down as well as our telephone lines to the station.”

The deputy chief said the service operates via two-way radios, but this method can be problematic as they are very busy.

“We have duplicate systems and we still have them because we can’t rely on everything 100% of the time. You never know you have a problem until it hits.

Vanderpost said he was not aware of any incidents Friday afternoon in which someone was unable to call paramedics.

He advised anyone in a medical emergency and unable to make an outgoing 9-1-1 call on their cell phone to seek out someone who has a working phone.

“It’s a note to everyone not to keep all your eggs in one basket.”

Maria Boukhers, the retailer of three Pioneer On The Run gas stations in Brantford and Hagersville, described the network outage as a disaster with debit and credit card payment methods, lottery terminals and ATMs .

“At the moment we can only accept cash,” she said, noting that gas pumps had to be set for prepayment only.

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Signs posted on gas station pumps say cash is the only acceptable form of payment due to Rogers' nationwide internet outage on Friday.
Signs posted on gas station pumps say cash is the only acceptable form of payment due to Rogers’ nationwide internet outage on Friday. Photo by Brian Thompson /The exhibitor

“We have a lot of customer complaints. A lot of senior customers don’t understand what’s going on. When you try to communicate the protocol at this point, some of them get angry, some keep asking, “What’s wrong?” Why can’t I pay?

She said having to explain the situation to every customer was causing delays and queues. The King George Road location has 18 petrol pumps and typically sells 45,000 liters of fuel on Fridays.

“Without the internet, it’s a big problem to be able to function,” observed Boukhers. “If it goes on for weeks at a time, people who don’t have cash at home could be in a lot of trouble. If it’s down for more than two or three days, how are people eat and get to work?

When asked what caused the outage, how many customers were affected and where, Rogers spokeswoman Chloe Luciani referred The Canadian Press to a tweet promising more updates and saying, ” We know how important it is for our customers to stay connected.

With files from The Canadian Press

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