A beleaguered Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has demanded that Rogers Communications explain to the commission what caused the catastrophic failure in their network last week. Frankly, the failure was not to blame on Rogers as much as it can be blamed on the CRTC. The CRTC did not do its job. There is really a simple explanation for the entire fiasco.
The facts were as Rogers stated on the day it happened. They were upgrading their system. Networks are constantly being upgraded. Without extensive redundancy in your network, an upgrade puts it at risk. The technical experts cannot tell, as precisely as they would like, just where the system might fail because of the strain on older equipment that an upgrade can cause. And bear in mind that such a complex network, serving so many clients, is not run by human technicians. It is run by computers. You also have to use computers to find the trouble and to reroute around the trouble.
The easiest way to visualize the Internet is to think of huge pipes running everywhere and in every direction that are filled with little packages of information. Policing these pipes are computers called hubs everywhere there are more pipes connected. The hubs read the address on each package and send it off via an open route in the closest direction to where it is going. When the packages get to their destination they are re-assembled into sound, voice, picture, text or whatever and delivered to your computer or device.
As you can imagine, the amount of data running through these pipes grows at an explosive rate. New pipes are being added but the system is also using higher and higher speeds to do the job. When you hear talk about fifth generation Internet, it is needed to meet the even higher speeds required for today’s demand for service. It means new equipment and new software to mange the equipment. And mistakes can be made.
You would expect the chair and commissioners of the CRTC to at least understand that simple explanation. When 10 million Canadians are cut off from their service because the CRTC had not demanded that Rogers and the other telecoms provide adequate back-up to their service, heads should roll.
Copyright 2022 © Peter Lowry
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