Bell and Telus Offer to Buy TTC Wireless Contract with $10 Million Bonus


  • Bell CEO responds to Minister Champagne’s letter urging telcos to work together for TTC wireless.
  • Three collaboration options proposed to improve TTC wireless service.
  • Bell and Telus offer $10M to TTC to buy BAI Canada contract.

Bell CEO, Mirko Bibic, has responded to Canada’s Minister of Innovation, François-Philippe Champagne’s letter regarding the lack of mobile service coverage in the TTC subway network.

In his response, shared with iPhone in Canada, Bibic agreed that all national wireless carriers should provide access to high-quality, reliable wireless services for TTC commuters.

Bibic emphasized Bell’s previous efforts to provide wireless service in the TTC and the company’s proposal for an open access, joint build model. He mentions that this model has been successfully deployed in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montréal, and Toronto’s Eglinton Crosstown light rail project.

He says it is “unconscionable” that the TTC with its annual estimated ridership of 235 million people, “still do not have access to reliable wireless service,” from the provider of their choice on daily commutes.

Bibic expressed disappointment with the TTC’s decision to award the subway contract to BAI Communications and the subsequent transfer of the contract to Rogers, which he alleged was a “closed door, backroom deal.”

“Bell has re-visited the open access, joint build model with BAI, the City and TTC numerous times over the past
decade but there has not been a willingness to engage,” wrote Bibic.

“This is why we were surprised to learn that the TTC has seemingly approved the transfer of BAI’s exclusive contract to Rogers in what appears to be a closed door, backroom deal. It is astounding that this important project would be awarded to one party without a transparent open-bid process designed to maximize the benefits for TTC riders,” he continued.

Bibic outlined three options for moving forward:

  • Rogers invites all national wireless carriers to participate in a joint build of the TTC’s wireless network. Each carrier funds the network build and operations, and no carrier is charged ongoing access fees.
  • Bell and Telus acquire the BAI contract and commit to an open access, joint build approach.
  • ISED and the CRTC compel Rogers to implement the open access, joint build model that has proven successful in other cities.

The Bell CEO highlighted that the company, together with Telus, has offered to acquire the BAI contract and proposed a direct payment of $10 million to the TTC for use in discretionary projects like transit safety improvements.

Bibic stated that they have not received any response from the TTC or Rogers on their proposals.

In the Telus response to Champagne, the company told iPhone in Canada in a statement it “continues to believe that a consortium approach to building the TTC network is the best way to ensure that redundancies are in place to allow for continuity of service in the event that one carrier suffers a network outage,” while noting this model has been successful for the STM in Montreal.

Telus says having multiple carriers with their own equipment on the network means less congestion, a more resilient network, and a better overall customer experience. “We will continue to work with the TTC and other stakeholders to ensure the best outcome for Torontonians,” said the Telus spokesperson.

Rogers reiterated to iPhone in Canada it is “committed to working with all carriers” and providing access to all TTC riders, which is “why we took action and stepped up to acquire BAI Canada to modernize this critical network and open up access for all riders,” said a spokesperson on late Wednesday. The company’s CEO previously urged Telus and Bell to “step up” and join the TTC wireless network.

This whole saga with TTC wireless service just got a lot more interesting. Time to load up on the popcorn, folks.