Feds Intervene to Bring Wireless Coverage for All TTC Riders

In the face of ongoing concerns about mobile service availability in Toronto’s subway system, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, announced the federal government is taking action on Monday.

Minister Champagne, alongside the Toronto City Council, Members of Parliament from Toronto, and city residents, has been voicing concerns about the lack of mobile wireless services within the subway system over the past several months. He shared today that despite all major wireless carriers expressing interest in a coordinated solution, “progress in negotiations has been limited.”

Expressing his dissatisfaction with the lack of an agreed solution by the carriers despite his previous requests, Minister Champagne stated, “The carriers have not reached an agreement. That is why I am taking action to address this situation.”

The Minister is initiating a direct course of action, directing his Department to “launch an expedited consultation process to revise the licences of all four of Canada’s major wireless carriers.” The goal is to ensure that every Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) rider has mobile coverage, beginning with emergency 911 service in all tunnels and stations, and followed by the provision of voice, data, and text services as soon as it becomes technologically possible.

Minister Champagne was clear about the gravity of the situation, stating, “Access to reliable telecommunications services—and to emergency services in particular—is a critical public safety matter.” He affirmed his commitment to take all necessary steps to protect the interest of Canadians in this crucial issue.

Rogers acquired BAI Canada back in April, with the latter holding exclusive rights to the TTC wireless network. Rogers said it plans to begin bringing 5G network access to most tunnels and stations by the fall of 2023. The overall 5G rollout will take roughly two years to complete. At the time, Champagne threatened to take action against telcos if an agreement between the latter for access did not materialize.

Last month, the CRTC rejected Bell’s request to fast-track the process for access to the network. But now it seems Champagne and the federal government are trying their own way to accelerate mobile access for all users, instead of just Rogers and Freedom Mobile customers.

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