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Opening remarks: Standing Committee on Industry and Technology (INDU) on July 25, 2022

[Tony Staffieri, President and CEO of Rogers Communications]

*Check against delivery*

Good morning Chair, members of the committee.

Thank you for the invitation to be with you.

My name is Tony Staffieri. I am president and CEO of Rogers Communications.

I am joined today by our new Chief Technology Officer, Ron McKenzie.

I appear before you today because, as Rogers CEO, I’m accountable for the outage that occurred on July 8th.

I’m also responsible for the specific actions we are taking, as a company, to make sure this does not happen again.

On that day, we failed to deliver on our promise to be Canada’s most reliable network.

More than a marketing slogan, we know just how critical the wireless phone and internet services Rogers provides are.

Canadians need to be able to reach their families.

Businesses need to be able to accept payments.

And, most importantly, emergency calls to 911 simply have to work, every time.

To those who were impacted by our outage, I am sorry.

Today, I want to share with you how we are working to win back the trust and confidence of Canadians.

I will start with what happened and why there was a delay in restoring our service;

I’ll discuss the important steps we’re taking to help prevent this from happening again.

I’ll conclude with some of the steps we have begun to take to make things better for our customers.

Simply put, this outage was a result of a system failure following an update in our core network.

Given the enormous complexity of all modern networks, understanding what caused the outage took some time.

Once the cause was identified, our technical experts needed more time to methodically bring traffic back as we had millions of customers trying to access their phones, home tv and internet, all at, or about the same time.

To manage those returning traffic volumes, we had to physically disconnect the impacted equipment.

Throughout this process, we had one singular and overriding focus: to get our customers up and running as quickly as we possibly could.

And I understand the frustration our customers felt, not knowing when our networks would be back online.

I wanted a timeline.

But the fact is we did not have one and didn’t want to provide an estimate that might turn out to be wrong.

In the conversations I’ve had with customers and with small and large business owners, there is one thing everyone wants to know: what Rogers is doing – today…now – to learn from this outage and ensure it won’t happen again.

I’ve said we will make every investment needed to do our best to make sure that won’t happen.

That investment begins with the work now underway through our Enhanced Reliability Plan.

Working with government and our competitors, we are making significant progress on a formal agreement to ensure that 911 calls can always be made — even in the event of an outage on any carrier’s network.

Making this a reality is the only responsible way forward and I am personally committed to making it possible for all Canadians.

I would like to thank Minister Champagne for his leadership on this.

When it comes to our own network, we will do our part. And then some.

To guard against a system-wide outage, we will set a higher standard by physically separating our wireless and internet networks and create an ‘always on’ network.

To be frank, this added layer of protection will be expensive. We estimate it will cost at least $250 million, but know it is the right thing to do.

We will also continue with our plan to invest heavily in reliability. We’re spending $10 billion over the next three years to build out and strengthen our network.

This investment includes additional oversight, more testing and greater use of Artificial Intelligence to ensure upgrades we make to our network work as intended.

Finally, we are partnering with leading technology firms to do a full review of our network systems to learn from the outage and emerge stronger.

When this work is complete, we will share the key lessons with our competitors and other industry partners.

When it comes to making things better for those who were impacted by our outage, we have already extended five days of credit for every Rogers customer.

As well, we are working with our business customers to better understand the implications of the outage on their organizations.

Chair, I know that it is only through our actions, and with time, that we can restore Canadians’ confidence in us.

We can and we will do better.

I thank the Committee for inviting us to speak with you today.

I look forward to your questions.