Innovation minister François-Philippe Champagne today announced new license conditions that mandates Rogers to immediately share access to its infrastructure and technical information with Bell, Telus and Freedom so that they can work together to provide wireless service to all Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) riders on the existing network by Oct. 3.
“Cellular connectivity on the subway is about more than just convenience. It is a critical public safety matter,” said Champagne. “TTC passengers have waited too long to access cellular services when riding the subway. That’s why today we’re taking immediate action on behalf of hundreds of thousands of frustrated passengers to require that by Oct. 3, all subway riders have access to cellular services regardless of their mobile carrier.”
Today’s announcement comes after Innovation Science and Economic Development (ISED) proposed, amid soaring safety concerns on the TTC, new conditions of license in July mandating Bell, Telus and Freedom to work out agreements with Rogers so that all TTC riders would have access to wireless services.
Bell and Telus said that they have been unable to work out commercial agreements with Rogers, who they allege is stonewalling and deliberately deferring commercial agreements so that it could launch wireless services for its own customers on the TTC before all other carriers, giving itself a headstart during a busy sales season.
Rogers, which took over as the sole network operator on the TTC after acquiring BAI Communications in April, announced last month the availability of 5G service to its own customers in certain parts of the TTC subway system, and 911 service to all riders using any provider.
Fully onboarding other carriers, Rogers said, would only delay coverage on the TTC.
An ISED spokesperson acknowledged in a briefing this morning that it expects commercial negotiations to take time, so the conditions would ensure that service is available first, then the carriers can hammer out the financial details, for which they have 100 days, including an arbitration period, beginning today. The rates agreed upon between the carriers would then be applied retroactively to the services made available on Oct. 3.
Once commercial agreements are established, all carriers would then have six months to cover all current stations, two years to cover 80 per cent of existing tunnels and three years to cover 100 per cent of tunnels.
Additionally, carriers will have to report annually on the progress made in deploying service to all parts of the TTC.
Carriers who do not meet the license conditions, ISED said, would be subject to various compliance and enforcement measures, including administrative monetary penalties or suspension or revocation of their licences.