I lost the whole last Friday. And so did much of Canada. I woke up and began looking through emails – to no avail because once again, no internet. So I turned on the TV to watch the news, only to find blackness on the screen. I thought, not again! Since I moved here I’ve never had so many internet issues since I stupidly left Bell Canada and joined the Rogers network and EVERYTHING – phone, TV, internet is connected by their shit wifi. I tried all my usual unplug, plug in tricks with my devices, which sometimes alleviates the problem. Again – to no avail. At that point, I hadn’t yet checked my mobile phone, which of course always works even when wifi is down because it picks up off the Rogers network cell towers when home wifi is down. But this time I had a dead phone!
At the same moment I began getting curious as to what the hell was going on, my friend Marsha knocked on my door. She came to inform me that Rogers network was down in the whole of Canada! In Canada we have only two giant conglomorate networks that monopolize the country – Rogers with a majority of customers and Bell Canada. And despite the various knock-off carriers that run off these two networks, that’s it. We had no communication to the outside world. Right away I suspected cyber tampering. Plus, I had recently heard on our news that we can expect some cyber attacks, adding that Canada isn’t protected properly with infrastructure to ward them all off. What else could possibly wipe out a whole network in one country?
I asked Marsha how she found out. She told me she knew her neighbor was connected to Bell. She knocked on her door and asked her to call security at our gatehouse and see WTH was going on, and found out. From 5am til wee hours of Saturday morning we were communicationless to the outside world.
I needed to make a few calls Friday to set things ready for my company I had coming Sunday to visit my husband’s grave and come back for lunch. So I got dressed and went up to the 10th floor where I used to live, to knock on a few old neighbor’s doors to see if anyone was on the Bell network. No luck! We were all mystified. I then went down to the convenience store in our building to ask the owner if he had any communications working. He told me his store could only take cash, and even though there was an ATM in his store, the banking system was also shut down, no debit cards, and for many businesses, not even credit cards because of no authorization. Imagine a whole banking system relying on one network!
I decided to go up to the lobby, knowing well there would be people there wondering what was going on. There I saw our building’s cleaners, Simon and Evangeline wiping down the windows. I asked if either of them were on Bell network, and thankfully Evangeline was, and she offered me to use her phone.
During that time, Marsha had gone out searching for wifi, as her daughter calls her every morning and she worried her daughter would worry about her. Marsha heard on the radio that our Starbucks cafes were on the Bell network. I had hoped to get to a Starbucks to send some texts, but one thing led to another as I was cleaning up my place for the weekend. I had the radio on, waiting for reports, as did everyone else, and nothing. Every commercial break announcers could tell us nothing, other than Rogers says they are working on the problem. They also informed that stores could only take cash, some closed, and the chaos at the airport just added to the already madness. People with their boarding passes on phones couldn’t board. All comms were down, and Lord knows how the air traffic controllers were managing. I was grateful to not be on a plane. They also warned not to take any road trips because if a car breaks down, there was no calling for help. AND EVEN 911 emergency line was NO SERVICE. I shuddered at the thought of how many needed an ambulance and died because of this event! It was a dominoe effect of chaos.
After 4pm, I went over to Marsha’s and hung pictures for her, since we were both home and nothing to do. Then she came over to my place and we played Dominoes. We kept checking our phones hoping for them to work, but no dice.
By 8pm, Marsha suggested we drive over to Starbucks to use their wifi to check in with people. Starbucks up the street was a sardine can, full of people, and younger ones hogging all the wifi with their laptops. There were plenty of people, like us, standing outside Starbucks hoping to pick up wifi, to no avail. There were just too many trying to do the same. So we drove to another Starbucks, and again, we couldn’t even get connected.
Finally, I saw a girl walking and texting, I asked her if she could connect and told me it was wonky, but our national pharmacy chain, across the way, Shoppers Drug Mart, was on the Bell Network. By this time it was 10pm, it seemed many didn’t know about this available wifi, and it only took me 10 minutes to connect and I began sending out texts. What a nightmare!
Everyone we’d seen and spoken to that day couldn’t help wondering if this was Russian tampering. How one monopoly network goes totally off the grid was puzzling. I can’t help but wonder if Bell Canada will be next. Were we sabotaged? Was this to show us what they can do? When we STILL have no answers from Rogers and the government has called in the CEO this week for talks, I am suspicious we aren’t being told the truth. Just how fragile are our systems with their vulnerabilites to attack? Not sure we’ll ever get the truth, but two things for sure: Canada better step up our protections, and I am moving back to Bell!