10/10/2013 04:00 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Rogers says software glitch knocked out voice and text for cellphone customers

Rogers Communications says it has fixed a network software problem that temporarily shut down text and phone service to about two-thirds of its 10 million cellphone customers.

The telecom giant restored services late Wednesday night after services went down for several hours.

"Due to a software glitch, the mobile network switches couldn't handle a sudden spike in all of the network signals they were receiving that contain instructions needed to put through cellphone calls and text messages," chief technology officer Bob Berner said from Toronto.

"Regardless of why it happened, it's not going to happen again," Berner said.

Marketing expert Raymond Pirouz said Rogers' reputation will take a hit.

"Ultimately, the Rogers brand will deteriorate in the mind of the consumer," said Pirouz, who lectures at the Ivey School of Business at Western University in London, Ont.

"But when the consumer has little choice to make a move, the situation becomes a sad state of affairs," he said, referring to the lack of competition in Canada's wireless sector.

Queen's University associate professor John-Kurt Pliniussen said consumers are always surprised and annoyed when a network goes down, but it's impossible to guarantee "100 per cent reliability."

But he said the hit to Rogers' brand will be minimal given the problem didn't take long to fix, compared to a global BlackBerry text messaging outage in 2011 that lasted about four days.

"It's sort of a like a slap in the face that all of this technology and connectivity that we rely on 24-7 is fallible," said Pliniussen, who teach marketing at the school in Kingston, Ont.

On Twitter, users tweeted that Rogers had some "splaining to do," while another complained the timing couldn't have been worse after she had just extended her Rogers' contract and upgraded her cellphone.

An Australian man living in New York with the Twitter handle @Rogers tweeted that he was getting inundated with angry messages from Canadian cellphone customers.

"The wrath of a thousand Canadians is a mighty sight. #rogersoutage," wrote Twitter user Glenn Rogers during the outage.

Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed acknowledged the service breakdown was "unacceptable."

"I sincerely apologize to all of our customers for this significant inconvenience and appreciate their understanding and patience," Mohamed said in a statement early Thursday.

Rogers and Fido postpaid wireless customers, those on a contract and who pay monthly, will receive a credit on their bills for one day of service because of the outage, said Rogers (TSX:RCI.B).

Telecom analyst Troy Crandall the quick apology by Mohamed was a "smart move."

"It's just a little, tiny hiccup in a long story for Rogers," said Crandall, of investment firm MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier in Montreal.

The Toronto-based company said its data services did not appear to be affected by the outage.