Minister Calls on Rogers, Telus, Bell, Quebecor to Unite for TTC Wireless Service

Champagne minister

Canada’s Minister of Innovation, François-Philippe Champagne, has sent a letter to the CEOs of Bell, Telus, Quebecor, and Rogers, urging them to address the lack of mobile service coverage in Toronto’s subway system.

This issue has raised public safety concerns, as many riders are unable to access mobile services while traveling on subway lines.

“Canadians rightfully expect and deserve telecom services when they use public transit. When it comes to underground wireless coverage, Canadians need uninterrupted coverage. I expect telcos to take action,” said Champagne on Wednesday afternoon.

In the letter, Champagne emphasizes the importance of reliable telecommunications services for public safety, business, and social connections. He highlights the Government of Canada’s Telecommunications Reliability Agenda, which focuses on robust networks, strengthening accountability, and coordinated planning and preparedness. Talk about touting the government’s PR speak in the letter.

The minister acknowledges that Freedom Mobile is currently the only provider with services in the Toronto subway system, using infrastructure deployed by BAI Communications Inc. However, this leaves many riders without mobile access, and raises concerns around public safety, including access to the future 9-8-8 suicide crisis line.

Champagne commends Rogers for their recent announcement to acquire BAI Canada and expand coverage, but urges all major mobile service providers to work together to ensure broader access to wireless services in the subway system.

“I expect that, as Canada’s largest mobile wireless service providers operating within the Greater Toronto Area, you will be able to rapidly come to an arrangement that enables all riders to access wireless services along Toronto’s subway system, building on progress made to date in expanding connectivity along the entire system,” writes Champagne.

The minister has requested a response from each company within 30 days, detailing their respective statuses and outlining a joint plan to offer mobile service to all subscribers. He also asks for information on the planned treatment of 9-8-8 calling in this context.

Bell told iPhone in Canada in a statement it suggested an open access model as far back as 2012, when the TTC first put the contract for subway service out to tender.

Telus said in a statement to iPhone in Canada it favours a “consortium approach to building the TTC network”, as it allows for redundancies if one carrier suffers a network outage.

Rogers reiterated it is “committed to provide access to all TTC riders,” in an emailed statement.