EDITORIAL: Internet outage, network and systems resilience reminder

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We don’t have many options in Canada when it comes to telecommunications (more on that in a moment), so needless to say, this outage affected many people across the country.

There’s something to be said for stepping away from online connectivity, especially in the summer, and relaxing or spending time with family. But people should do it on their own terms, not because their supplier got it wrong.

Here’s the thing though: this outrage wasn’t just an opportunity for people to miss work for a few hours. In many cases, this has caused serious problems.

Government services were delayed or interrupted, business operations were suspended, some broadcasters were unable to broadcast, and emergency services were even rendered inaccessible.

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In other words, for a few people, the breakdown could have been a matter of life or death. There is also a real economic toll in terms of lost productivity.

For years, Canadians have lamented that there is not more competition in our telecommunications landscape. Complaining about the limited options available has become a national pastime.

We need more options in Canada and regulators are blocking providing that to Canadians.

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Friday’s outage was also a great reminder and wake-up call on the need for resilient systems. The more we depend on technology and are plugged into the online domain, the more vulnerable we become to regular outages and hostile cyberattacks.

The idea that our country can actually be shut down by a simple switch is a frightening prospect. This is even more true for the electrical network than for the Internet.

Businesses and governments must work hard to silo their critical operations and make them less vulnerable to attack.

It’s nice to step away from the online world once in a while, but these unsettling blackouts aren’t the right way to do it.

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