Rogers outage requires redefinition of quality

There has been recent progress since Rogers cell coverage was unavailable July 8 and several days afterward.  The government is now requiring all cell companies to implement changes to avoid long outages like this. In the case of Rogers they will have to split their wireline from their wireless network.  This will result in a higher quality of systems that will provide customers with better service.

Queen’s University professor Christian Leuprecht told Global News that it’s “wireless 101″ to have a built-in redundancy to avoid single points of failure.  “The disclosure by Rogers that they’re running their wireline and wireless business on the same back end in itself is quite stunning,” he said.

Everyone should work to deliver good quality service.  A definition of good ethics, such as CIPS provides, always includes the need to deliver good quality work.  And customers always expect the best we have.  Defining good quality in the network and IT sectors must always change as technology improves and best practices are developed to ensure various possibilities are covered.

It is never possible to test all the cases or cover all the possibilities.  Even if you could, the cases can then be combined and appear in various permutations.  In the case of the Rogers outage there were two vendors dealing with a coding change and that had not been anticipated.  We usually test and handle all the most likely cases and the easiest cases and leave the rest to be handled at the time on the rare chance they occur.

When talking about testing, Google says:

Although there is no “ideal code coverage number,” at Google we offer the general guidelines of 60% as “acceptable”, 75% as “commendable” and 90% as “exemplary.”

They actually argue there is a logarithmic amount of work to test anything more than 90% of the cases.

Especially with network changes, a test environment is never as big or as complex as the marketed network so testing does not catch everything and real networks are impacted.  The government is acknowledging that these things happen and mandating that there be an “ultimate” backup plan that involves better cooperation with your competitors.

CTV is reporting:

Canada’s major telecom companies have reached a formal agreement to “ensure and guarantee” emergency roaming and other mutual assistance in the case of a major outage.

“Going forward, should one of these providers be faced with a major network outage, the other companies have committed to provide the support and assistance necessary so that Canadians can reach loved ones, access 911, and conduct business transactions,” Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, said to reporters.

In the days after the outage, Champagne directed the CEOs of Rogers and other telecom companies to develop a backup plan to prevent a similar scenario, giving them 60 days to do so.

This is a redefinition of the expected quality of Canadian networks.  Since the event involved outages for debit and credit card systems, it is also a redefinition of application quality expectations.

Having said that, the CRTC rules are the minimum quality that is in the marketplace.  As that baseline moves up, let’s hope that companies reach forward and find ways to deliver even better quality.  The incentive to avoid handing your customers to your competitors may inspire some really good work!


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Donna Lindskog
Donna Lindskog
Donna Lindskog is an Information Systems Professional (retired) and has her Masters degree in Computer Science from the University of Regina. She has worked in the IT industry since 1978. Most of those years were at SaskTel where she progressed from Programmer, to Business Analyst, to Manager. At one point she had over 48 IT positions reporting to her and she has experience outside of IT managing Engineers. As a Relationship Manager, Donna worked with executive to define the IT Principles so departmental roles were defined. As the Resource Manager in the Corporate Program/Project Management Office, she introduced processes to get resources for corporate priorities. In 2003 she was given the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in Technology.

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