Due to a phone line outage, The Weeknd’s stadium tour date has been pushed back

Due to a phone line outage, The Weeknd's stadium tour date has been pushed back

Tech Highlights:

  • The fact that the tour was to open at the Rogers Centre (formerly the Skydome) — the largest venue in the Weeknd’s hometown of Toronto, named after and sponsored by the affected wireless network — was a painfully ironic twist. It is a cashless venue and all ticketing, food, beverage and merch sales are tied to the wireless network.

  • Canada-wide chaos has been caused by a Rogers Wireless phone network outage that lasted the entire day. Due to a statewide outage of Rogers Wireless, one of Canada’s largest phone networks, which disrupted the nation for the entirety of Friday, the Weeknd’s “After Hours Til Dawn” stadium tour has been postponed.

In a message to fans posted on his Instagram story, the Weeknd wrote, “I’m crushed & heartbroken. Been at the venue all day but it’s out of our hands because of the Rogers outrage. Operations and safety are compromised and I tried my absolute best. This one hurts the most, and we will make thjs show happen, but unfortunately not tonight. I know how long you’ve been waiting and how hard a lot of you worked to make it to the show and experience this special moment with me. I can’t wait to see you all.”

The outage, which began at around 4:30 a.m. ET, illuminated just how much modern society has come to rely on cellular coverage: Throughout the country, government and banking systems, parking and countless other businesses were incapable of processing transactions. Restaurants were forced to serve on a cash-only basis; some of the longest lines in downtown Toronto on Friday were for ATM machines. Cafes and any business offering free wifi were packed.

A statement from tour promoter Live Nation reads: “The Weeknd was onsite and ready to play but due to the nationwide Rogers network outage the show planned for this evening at Rogers Centre will be postponed as the venue’s operations & infrastructure are not possible until full service is back.

 Please hold on to your ticket. Updates on a new date coming soon.”

As the Weeknd notes in his message, the venue is so thoroughly wired that it would have been unsafe to hold the show under these conditions. The Rogers Centre — formerly called the Skydome — is a cashless venue and all transactions rely on wifi, except for fans who saved their tickets to Apple Wallet or other non-wifi-reliant apps.

Sources tell Variety that the lateness of the announcement, which came at the time doors were scheduled to open and fans had been waiting outside for hours, was due to the Weeknd’s team was trying to find a way to perform the show up until the last possible minute.

However, a couple of blocks away from the Rogers Centre, Roger Waters’ concert at the ScotiaBank Arena went ahead as scheduled on Friday night. A large sign outside the venue offered free wifi inside the arena, listed a website for assistance with mobile ticekts and noted that credit card payments were accepted inside although debit card transactions were not able to be processed; a common situation due to the outage. It seems possible that the reason the concert was able to proceed is that ScotiaBank Arena may not be a Rogers-only venue.

On Friday afternoon, Rogers did not have an estimate for when the outage would be fixed, according to Kye Prigg, Rogers’ senior vice-president of access networks and operations, on CBC’s “Power & Politics.” “I wouldn’t like to say whether it’s going to be fully online today or not, but we are working very, very hard on making sure that we get everything running as soon as possible,” he said. “We’re getting very close to understanding the root cause of the of the failure. And we’re taking actions along with our network vendors to recover the situation. “We don’t understand how the different levels of redundancy that we build across the network coast to coast have not have not worked,” he added. While anyone not in Canada might think the postponement was an overreaction, an American equivalent would be a nationwide shutdown of Verizon or T-Mobile service. The level of disruption is genuinely alarming and a sobering reminder of what would take place in the event of a cyberattack.

In fact, just a month before the outage, Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the country’s government was on “high alert” for cyberattacks by Russia and others in the wake of the increasingly hostile international relations caused by the war in Ukraine. “I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that, in the current geopolitical environment in which we find ourselves, that we are very much on high alert for potential attacks from hostile state actors like Russia,” Mendicino said during an appearance at the country’s House of Commons public safety committee. He described those attacks as possibly coming in the form of cyberattacks and ransomware “which look to identify potentially valuable targets to Canadian interests like critical infrastructure but equally, to sub-national targets, different orders of government, different sectors to the economy.”

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