Canada is forcing Rogers to allow other telecoms on its TTC subway network

Sep 11 2023, 7:43 pm

All TTC subway riders will soon have access to cellphone service on the subway network following an announcement from the federal government that will force telecom giant Rogers to share access to its exclusive TTC mobile infrastructure with other carriers.

Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development François-Philippe Champagne announced on Tuesday that the government would force omnipresent (but evidently not omnipotent) telecom Rogers Communications to allow access to its network serving the TTC by October 3 at the latest.

Champagne also announced that all wireless carriers who offer service in Toronto will be required to have commercial agreements in place to provide service on the TTC network within the next 100 days.

If everything goes according to plan, every single TTC subway station will have mobile coverage by next June, 80% of tunnels will have service by the end of 2025, and the entire system will have full coverage by the end of 2026.

These new requirements are to be imposed through conditions on the telecoms’ wireless licences, which Champagne’s ministry holds purview over.

“Cellular connectivity on the subway is about more than just convenience. It is a critical public safety matter. TTC passengers have waited too long to access cellular services when riding the subway,” said Champagne.

“That’s why today we’re taking immediate action on behalf of hundreds of thousands of frustrated passengers to require that by October 3, all subway riders have access to cellular services regardless of their mobile carrier.”

Rogers recently announced that it had begun testing of its new 5G network, months after the April acquisition of the Canadian Operations of BAI Communications, which held the exclusive rights to the TTC’s wireless network since 2012.

As of September, 5G service is only available to Rogers customers, as well as Freedom Mobile and its new parent company Videotron.

That service is still in its early stages, offered on the downtown U-shaped stretch of the Line 1 Yonge-University-Spadina, 13 stations on the Line 2 Bloor-Danforth stretching from Keele to Castle Frank; and tunnels between St. George and Yonge stations.

Tuesday’s announcement will expand the network’s availability to customers of Rogers’ competing carriers, including Telus and Bell/BCE, to offer their customers access to mobile service on the subway.

“Everyone should be able to have cellphone service on the subway, regardless of their carrier,” said Mayor Olivia Chow, who welcomed Tuesday’s announcement with an invitation for “mobile carriers to work together to quickly deliver the service that Torontonians need and deserve.”

“People should be able to rely on these services while riding the TTC,” closed Chow.

Jack LandauJack Landau

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