Maritime-wide 911 outage likely a configuration issue similar to the “software bug” that disrupted Rogers internet last summer, says analyst

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On Tuesday, emergency 911 service was down for two and a half hours in the early morning hours in the province of Nova Scotia and some areas of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The disruption affected landlines and some cellphones.

Bell, which operates the affected 911 network, restored service at 9:30 a.m. AT A statement to CBC News The cause of the outage was a 6 a.m. software update to prepare for 10-digit dialing for New Brunswick. “Which triggered an unexpected call processing failure on 911.”

Bell stressed that 911 outages are rare, and receive the full attention of their engineering teams, adding that the issue was an “isolated incident”.

But it’s important to remember that the problem isn’t with 911 systems, which are “essentially bullet-proof,” said Vice President Mark Tauschek. Distinguished Analyst and Research Fellow But Info-Tech Research Group, but rather with Bell’s Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). More importantly, Tauschek said, it wasn’t a software problem, but a configuration problem.

“We started mixing software updates and configuration updates, which are not the same thing,” Tauschek explained. “Recall the recent 16-hour Plus Rogers internet outage in July of 2022 – that was not a “software bug”; It was a configuration change in BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) routing that took down the entire network until they could fix the issue and re-route internet traffic back through Rogers’ network.

The same happened with a configuration update to allow 10-digit calling, so that the call routing table probably didn’t know how to handle the 3-digit call because it couldn’t be routed to the new 10-digit local number. was done, suggested Tauschek.

Bell updating call routing for 10-digit dialing in eastern Canada is a once in a lifetime configuration update, therefore, not something the company would find useful to re-plan for, Tauschek said. But a post-mortem is necessary, and lessons must be applied to change management processes going forward. He said, “Bell will have to do it anyhow, because the government will be on him like they were on Rogers.”

Bell appears to be of the same mind, adding that it “adjusted its processes and safeguards to ensure this type of problem will not happen again.”

However, that statement did not stop Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne from expressing his dissatisfaction with the matter. a tweet: “The telecoms outage affecting 911 services in Nova Scotia this morning is unacceptable. As I’ve said before, Canadians expect and deserve reliable telecoms connections to access emergency services at all times.

John Lohr, the minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Office of Emergency Management, also called the outage ‘extremely worrying’, and said, “I think it’s clear that someone could lose their life if they don’t get the services they need.” Is.”

Public trust in Canada’s national telecommunications companies also appears to be low, as many users took to Twitter to express their outrage. Some expressed dissatisfaction with their service and exorbitant rates, while others pointed to the fact that a similar outage occurred for six hours in the 613 area code 15 years earlier, when Ontario moved to 10-digit dialing. Yet Bell managed to repeat. similar errors.

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