Rogers, TELUS and Bell Seen as Preventing Cell Service in TTC Subways


The National Post reports wireless incumbents Rogers, TELUS and Bell are seen as the key to bringing cellular service to underground Toronto Transit Commission subways stations, but currently no talks are in place between BAI Canada Inc., a subsidiary of Broadcast Australia and the telcos.

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According to Brian Jacks, the chief executive officer of BAI Canada, the company has until December 5 to bring carriers on board. If unsuccessful they will be granted another year’s extension and possibly have to look into transferring their contract to another party. Jacks has this to say:

“The [big three carriers], the guys that were here before, they would love nothing more than to build it themselves,”

“But I’m not sure they’ve accepted the fact that we’ve actually won the license here.”

BAI Canada won the bid in December 2009 to provide a wireless network for 61 existing and planned tunnels and station platforms, with a $25.5 million bid, well above the lower $5.5 million offer from Bell Mobility. The Australian company has committed to offering Wi-Fi to two pilot stations at St. George and Bloor-Yonge by year’s end, with more to come in following years leading to a 2017 completion date system wide.

BAI, according to TTC spokesman Brad Ross, is a “significant” player, having previously deployed similar setups in other transit systems worldwide, such as in New York City via their sister company Transit Wireless.

As for cellphone voice and data coverage, the premise is BAI would install and manage underground infrastructure, with the Big Three paying for access, which appears to be the issue at stake. Jacks explains how it would all work:

“[It’s] so efficient for the TTC. You only have one organization that has to have access to equipment and the network. You have one organization that’s responsible for wireless services,”

“They have their equipment at a base station hotel, they’re able to plug in, and they’re able to work with us to optimize their network for the TTC’s subway system.”

However, it doesn’t appear incumbents are ready to participate in this project, as seen in their responses to the Post:

“Rogers is not in discussions with BAI at this time,” a spokesperson said in response to a list of emailed questions.

“We aren’t participating in this project,” a Telus spokesperson noted.

As for Bell: “We are not working with any third parties on TTC coverage.”

Despite incumbents lacking interest in the project, newer wireless startups Public Mobile and WIND Mobile expressed interest and are in early talks with BAI.

A similar plan by a foreign company to manage underground wireless services recently failed in Montreal, as Chicago’s Extenet was also unable to bring incumbents and Videotron on board after two years of trying. Once Extenet’s plan failed, Rogers, TELUS, Bell and Videotron suddenly formed their own group, and negotiated with the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) to implement cellular service for 68 metro stations, set for 2014.

Do you want cellular service within TTC subways and stations?


  • Michael Moniz

    And this is why they are hated! Fair for Canada my arse! More like greed for Canadian telcos. Classic sociopathic behaviour; if we can’t have it then no one can!

  • bradg17

    Their plan is to wait until BAI loses the contract, and then just do it themselves. That way they don’t have to pay to use someone else’s network. Well hopefully Verizon comes and takes their deal.

  • Uniqash

    Is this what the Big 3 mean by “Fair for all Canadians” when they cant even commit to providing Cell Phone Reception on the Subway. Although I will be moving to Verizon, even if they dont offer Subway reception. I’ve been ripped off by Bell too many times for me to care about thier BS. Where was the Bell CEO, when bell tried to rip me off 220$ for Fibe Installation, Where was he when the Bell Rep made a mistake on my plan & i had to shell out 280$ for Data Usage overages?? The Call Centre Supervisor asked me to provide proof. I echo the thoughts of everyone else when i say…..If the Big 3 were fair & have a loyal fan base, why are they scared shitless about Verizon moving into Canada.

    I urge you all to get the support all your friends, family, Co-workers & every one you see on the street. Get them to post comments, write to PM Harper, pledge your support to allowing real competition in the wireless market in Canada by allowing Verizon to come in to Canada. This is our chance to speak up for the ripping of over the years

  • ScooterCat63

    Get ready for another full page ad.

  • Calliope

    Wouldn’t surprise me. Didnt the big 3 do the same in Vancouver? AFAIK Telus built the equipment in underground skytrain stations and Rogers and Bell (I assume both – my Rogers phone does) operates off them.

    Unless I heard wrong, but we do have underground service of some kind.

  • Chrome262

    I agree that they will wait till they fail, but they must of came to an agreement long ago about not offering it to the TCC. Seriously they should of had it by now. Bastards

  • 1His_Nibs1

    I don’t know about sociopaths but there’s evidence to support the theory that a lot of CEO’s are psychopaths. Would explain a lot about their “bullying” of employees to write letters of protest to the federal government against Verizon. Is anyone surprised by this? It’s just further proof these imbeciles don’t get it and never will. Kudos to BAI for throwing the big 3 under the bus though. Hey Gary, maybe you could do a follow up interview with Minister Moore and ask him his thoughts on this?

  • Sv650

    Maybe they feel paying BAI $25 million for access when they would have built it for $5 million has them a bit wary.

  • Guest

    I don’t have a problem with this. If you ran Bell, Rogers, or Telus, would you want have a middle-man meddling with your customer’s network experience?

  • Sv650

    It might have already been installed if the TTC were prepared to receive a smaller kickback than the $25.5 million offered by BAI. The telcos may have wanted in to the subway ages ago, but the TTC wanted their slice, so the telcos had to wait until the access was made available.

  • Peter Pottinger

    lol Im not fan of the telcos, but having a middle man like BAI trying to siphon profits and trying to dictate how and where the network operates would be the most retarded move for any telco.

  • Chrome262

    Why do I feel the TTC will waste it when they get it lol

  • Chrome262

    you have them mixed its the other way around:
    ” sociopath is one who is affected with a personality disorder marked by antisocial behavior. A psychopath is a person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse”
    So while companies in general can be either one I guess, what you are refering to is a sociopaths, don’t think CEO’s kill their employees

  • 1His_Nibs1

    I’m just going by a report in Forbes magazine. There’s also a book on the subject.

  • FuFu

    Its Canada!! What do you expect?!? When I was travelling in Asia Japan & Hong Kong, there’s reception in Subways, remote areas, etc..even free 10 min Internet services at each MTR (Subway) stations “as in there’s 2 computer terminals for passengers to use and free wi-fi. They never heard of a 1 year or 2 year term? Huh say what?!! No No No They have their Top 3 Competitive companies ppl change cellphones more often than we change cars!!
    We, as Canadians, need to SPEAK UP and STEP UP; BRING OUT the GAME PLAN the next Election make some changes!!! Ontario has always been Alliance & Steven Harper has lots of Blue Collar Alliance fans out East and in Calgary as well. Good luck!! The saying “The Rich get Richer..The Poorer get Poorer”

  • FuFu

    PM Harper is Blue Collar Alliance party…Next election vote Liberal!! Virgin Mobile is under Bell and I called Bell Security in Montreal and report a Stolen iPhone the Security Mgr told me to “Screw Off” it’s past his Office Hours and Nothing he can do if the Police or Apple can’t do anything “Its my Stupid fault for getting my iPhone stolen. You should have complain on the Call Ctr Supervisor but Telus is just as bad with their Loyalty Dept.
    Try CHAT-R they’re sister company with Rogers uses Rogers towers, I’ve had Rogers the past 15 yrs and never bought a phone with them. They’ve been very good to me, occasionally a few bad prunes but overall Business as Usual
    I thought Verizon is in Loblaws/Superstore chain…check it out!! Alot of ppl complain but are lazy don’t do anything..You need to Twit all your friends or FB all your co-workers, and flyer your neighbours action out!!