Minister announces all TTC subway riders will have cellular access come October 3rd

Carriers have 100 days to come to an agreement to bring service to the entire transit network

Ottawa has ruled that all TTC subway riders must have cellular connectivity by October 3rd, regardless of their provider.

Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne shared the details of the new spectrum licence conditions in Toronto on Monday.

“Cellular connectivity on the subway is about more than just convenience. It is a critical public safety matter. TTC passengers have waited too long to access cellular services when riding the subway,” the Minister said in a press release.

Under the conditions, carriers are required to “quickly” work on expanding the existing network to provide voice, text, and data services throughout the subway system.

The press release states carriers will need to work “within ambitious and specific timeframes.”

An Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) spokesperson said carriers will also need to have commercial agreements in place within the next 100 days, with up to three years to bring full coverage throughout the transit network.

Specifically, carriers will have six months to bring coverage to all stations, two years to cover 80 percent of the tunnels, and three years to cover 100 percent of the tunnels, once they have entered an agreement with Rogers.

The company acquired the rights to the infrastructure in April, which led to a fierce debate about access between providers. The back and forth led ISED to launch a consultation to examine the matter.

The Minister could impose penalties, including suspending a carrier’s spectrum license, if they don’t meet the conditions.

Rogers launched 5G service on parts of the subway system in late August, leading Bell and Telus to raise questions.

“This approach reflects what we’ve been proposing all along — to bring 5G servicesto all riders as quickly as possible. Bell and Telus have been dragging their heels and the federal government is now forcing them to work with us in earnest to make connectivity possible for all riders,” a Rogers spokesperson told MobileSyrup

“We’ll continue towork around the clock to upgrade and expand the network so all riders can connect anywhere on the subway.”

In a statement, Telus said it was “pleased” with the announcement. “Minister Champagne’s order will significantly improve public safety and fair competition. It is regrettable that it took his action to force Rogers to do what they had promised to do months ago. The TELUS team stands ready to light up access as soon as possible, to the benefit of all TTC riders.”

Updated September 11th, 12:07pm ET: The article has been updated to include a statement from Telus.

Source: ISED