Minister Threatens to ‘Take Action’ Against Telcos Over TTC Cell Coverage

Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne reiterated his stance for major Canadian telecoms to improve cellphone coverage and 911 services in the Toronto subway system, during a press conference in Montreal on Friday.

The minister emphasized that the government would take action if the telcos fail to reach an agreement that benefits Canadians.

Last week, the minister penned a letter to the executives of Bell, Telus, Quebecor, and Rogers calling on the major carriers to reach a deal that would allow any company to access the TTC’s wireless network after Rogers’ purchase of the existing operations.

According to Global News, Champagne said to reporters, “If they don’t come to an arrangement together that would serve Canadians, that would increase the coverage, that would increase the 911 services in the subway system in Toronto, we’ll take action and we’ll make sure that we do what’s right for Canadians.” He noted that the issue affects one million daily Toronto transit system users.

Champagne is again seemingly making himself look like a hero to Canadians. He did after all give us more control over telco pricing for the first time, by approving the Rogers-Shaw merger, right?

The Industry Minister expressed his shock at the lack of reliable access to cellphone coverage in the nation’s largest transit system, stating, “It’s something a bit shocking that in a country like Canada, that in the largest transit system in our nation, which is the one in Toronto, that people cannot have reliable access to cellphone coverage.”

Champagne recently sent a letter to the CEOs of Bell, Telus, Quebecor, and Rogers, requesting them to come up with a plan that would enable any company to access the Toronto Transit Commission’s (TTC) wireless network after Rogers’ acquisition of the existing operations. The companies have been given 30 days to provide their respective statuses on the issue and outline a joint plan.

After Rogers acquired BAI Canada, which operates the wireless network in the TTC subway, Bell demanded the TTC open up access to all carriers. Bell and Telus offered to purchase BAI Canada and give $10 million to the TTC, an offer that was declined by the latter. Rogers previously told iPhone in Canada it plans to enter into discussions with other carriers for access to the network.

Champagne urged the telco CEOs to “do better” and expressed his trust in their ability to come together for the benefit of Canadian citizens, and in this case specifically people in Toronto.