TTC subways are getting cell phone service and people are already angry about it

Apr 11 2023, 4:28 pm

Cell phone service is finally coming to the TTC, but not everyone is pleased with a deal that would see telecom giant Rogers monopolize access to your phone’s bar count on underground portions of Toronto’s transit network.

Rogers Communications announced the acquisition of BAI Communications on Monday, and by association, the latter company’s exclusive rights over wireless service on the TTC’s subway network.

The media and telecom titan has pledged to upgrade the current wireless infrastructure in TTC tunnels and stations to full 5G, prioritizing 911 emergency calls before an eventual full rollout within approximately two years.

Rogers states that “the existing network, limited to the TTC subway platforms and concourses and approximately 25% of the tunnels, cannot handle customer volume from the major carriers.”

“Is it currently used by Freedom customers. Freedom’s agreement with BAI remains in place, and Freedom customers will continue to have the same access they do today.”

It’s a huge step forward in connectivity for Toronto commuters; however, there are already many voices speaking out against the exclusivity part of the deal, which appears to give Rogers the right to restrict other telecoms from providing service to subway passengers.

It was initially unknown if Rogers would allow other telecoms, including Bell and Telus, to sign on and provide customers with subway cell service, which already has commenters using the M-word.

A Rogers representative has since informed blogTO that “we’re planning to initiate discussions with other providers to participate.”

Hopeful candidates in the upcoming mayoral by-election voiced concerns on Tuesday about what this deal means for customers relying on other mobile service providers.

Councillor Brad Bradford, who is running for Toronto’s top job this June, called the original TTC wireless network contract “a bad deal for Toronto” and pledges to “hold the TTC accountable to ensure all Torontonians get service” if elected mayor.

Former city councillor and current mayoral candidate Ana Bailão took a similar stance in a statement Tuesday morning, calling the deal a good first step but stressing that mobile customers — regardless of service provider — all deserve access to subway connectivity.

Rogers is likely already reaping the rewards of the bombshell announcement, and customers of other providers have already suggested that they are willing to make the switch in order to have phone service during their subway commutes.

Jack LandauJack Landau

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