Maritime-wide 911 outage likely a configuration issue similar to the “software bug” that disrupted Rogers internet last summer, says analyst
The 911 call was down for two and a half hours early Tuesday morning in the province of Nova Scotia and some areas of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The disruption affected the fixed network and some mobile phones.
Bell, which operates the affected 911 network, restored service at 9:30 a.m. AT and said in a statement to CBC News that the cause of the outage was a 6 a.m. software update to remove the 10-digit dialing for Prepare New Brunswick. “which triggered an unexpected call processing error at 911.”
Bell stressed that 911 outages are rare and get the full attention of their engineering teams, adding that the problem was a “single incident.”
But it’s important to remember that the problem isn’t with the 911 systems, which are “essentially bulletproof,” said Mark Tauschek, vice president, Distinguished Analyst and Research Fellow at Info-Tech Research Group, but with Bell’s public switched telephone network (PSTN). More importantly, Tauschek added, it probably wasn’t a software issue, but a configuration issue.
“We’ve started merging software updates and configuration updates, which aren’t the same thing,” Tauschek explained. “Remember the last 16 hours plus Roger’s internet outage in July 2022 – it wasn’t a ‘software bug’; It was a configuration change to the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routing that crippled the entire network until they could fix the problem and route internet traffic back through Rogers’ network.”
The same may have happened with the configuration update to allow 10-digit calls, where the call-routing tables probably didn’t know how to handle a 3-digit call since it wasn’t routed to a new 10-digit local number, Tauschek suggested.
Bell’s update of call routing to 10-digit dialing in eastern Canada is a one-time configuration update, so it won’t make sense for the company to reschedule it, Tauschek said. But a post-mortem analysis is necessary, and the lessons should be applied to future change management processes. He added, “Bell will probably have to do that one way or the other because the government will be on them like they were on Rogers.”
Bell appears to agree, stating that it “has adjusted its processes and safeguards to ensure these types of issues don’t happen again.”
However, this statement did not prevent Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne from expressing his dissatisfaction with the matter a tweet: “The telecommunications outage that impacted 911 services in Nova Scotia this morning is unacceptable. As I have said before, Canadians expect and deserve a reliable telecommunications connection to be able to access emergency services at any time.”
Minister in charge of Nova Scotia’s Office of Emergency Management, John Lohr, also called the outage “extremely worrying”, adding: “I think it’s clear that if someone doesn’t receive the services they need, it could cost their lives.” needed.”
Public confidence in Canada’s national telecoms also appears to be at an all-time low, with many users taking to Twitter to express their outrage. Some expressed dissatisfaction with their service and the exorbitant rates, while others pointed to the fact that 15 years ago in the 613 area code, a similar outage occurred for six hours when Ontario switched to 10-digit dialing, but Bell made it through to repeat this same mistake.