CRTC launches consultation on enhancing reliability of Canada’s telecom; imposes interim directive on carriers

The new head of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is wasting no time kickstarting efforts to improve the reliability and resiliency of Canada’s telecommunications networks.

“Canadians need reliable, high-quality telecommunications services,” said Vicky Eatrides, chairperson and chief executive officer of the CRTC, in a release. “We are taking action to lessen the disruptive impact of service outages on Canadians, reduce their occurrence and length, and ensure that essential services such as 911 and emergency alerts are always available.”

To that end, the CRTC today launched the first of several consultations, this one asking Canadians for their comments on proposed requirements for the reporting of major service outages.

In its call for comments, entitled Development of a regulatory framework to improve network reliability and resiliency – Mandatory notification and reporting about major telecommunications service outages, the CRTC noted that the scale and frequency of outages caused by extreme weather, cyber-attacks, and accidents have been increasing, citing factors such as climate change, the increased economic and social importance of telecommunications, and what it referred to as “technological evolution”.

“As the complexity of telecommunications networks and the importance of communication in Canadians’ daily lives increases, there is a need for additional measures to improve network reliability and resiliency and to mitigate the impact of service outages,” the call for comments explained. “Building on the work of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and the Canadian Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (CSTAC), the Commission is taking action to develop a framework to improve the reliability and resiliency of telecommunications networks. This notice of consultation is the first stage in this process.”

Meanwhile, it said, “on an interim basis pending the outcome of this proceeding, the Commission directs all Canadian carriers to report major service outages (including outages affecting only 9-1-1 networks) to the Commission within two hours of when the carrier becomes aware of such an outage. Additionally, the Commission directs carriers to file a comprehensive report with the Commission within 14 days following the outage. This direction takes effect on 8 March 2023.”

In addition, it is hiring an independent firm to review the mitigations Rogers has put in place after its July 2022 outage, and will, in collaboration with ISED, commission a report on the measures employed by telecommunications regulators internationally to make networks more reliable and resilient against vulnerabilities and threats that may lead to a telecom service outage.

Comments on the Commission’s proposed reporting requirements for carriers, detailed in the call for comments, may be submitted online, mailed to Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N2, or faxed to 819-994-0218. Inputs will be accepted until Mar. 24.

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Lynn Greiner
Lynn Greiner
Lynn Greiner has been interpreting tech for businesses for over 20 years and has worked in the industry as well as writing about it, giving her a unique perspective into the issues companies face. She has both IT credentials and a business degree.

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