Bell Seeks CRTC Help in Rogers TTC Subway Dispute
Bell has filed an application with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) seeking urgent orders in its escalating dispute with Rogers over access to the latter’s wireless network on Toronto’s subway system.
The Montreal-based company is requesting the regulator to prohibit Rogers from adding its own customers onto the network until access is provided to all wireless carriers, reports The Globe and Mail.
The application is the latest development in the ongoing dispute between Rogers and its rivals, Bell and Telus, over cellphone service on the subway system in Canada’s most populous city. The conflict began when Rogers announced in April that it was acquiring BAI Canada, the company with exclusive rights to develop wireless infrastructure inside Toronto Transit Commission subway tunnels.
Bell and Telus have been advocating for a joint build model, where all carriers own a stake in the network, arguing that this would reduce network congestion and improve reliability. They have also been urging federal Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne to ensure a commitment from Rogers that their customers will gain access to the network at the same time as Rogers’ own customers.
Rogers has insisted that Bell and Telus have misrepresented its commitment to modernizing and expanding the network for the benefit of all riders. The company has proposed a framework that would see the timing of access and other terms worked out during commercial negotiations, with arbitration available if agreements cannot be reached by August 15.
However, Bell alleges in its application to the CRTC that Rogers is attempting to gain a commercial advantage by delaying access for non-Rogers customers. Bell claims that Rogers is refusing to make or consider any commercial proposal or engage in technical collaboration aimed at facilitating access for other carriers.
Bell is asking the CRTC to rule on the matter by July 14. In response, Rogers has called Bell’s submission to the CRTC “full of inaccuracies and mischaracterizations” and reiterated its commitment to modernize and expand the network for all TTC riders.
Currently, only Freedom Mobile customers have access to the network, which covers station platforms, concourses, and about a quarter of the subway tunnels.
Rogers has committed to expanding the existing network and upgrading it to 5G within two years. The federal department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada has stated that Minister Champagne is closely monitoring the negotiations and is prepared to take further action. How hard is it to get cell access for all customers along the TTC subway? Canada feels so backwards when it comes to these things.