Rogers brings 5G service to parts of TTC subway amid dispute with Bell and Telus

Rogers announced today that its customers can talk, text, and stream on 5G in tunnels and stations in the busiest sections of Toronto Transit Commission’s (TTC) subway.

That includes all stations and tunnels in the Downtown U, the tunnels between St.George and Bloor-Yonge stations, and the thirteen stations from Keele to Castle Frank, plus Spadina and Dupont stations.

This is the first phase of Rogers’ network upgrade on the TTC, which now also includes improved access to 911 service for all riders regardless of their provider.

“Toronto is a world-class city and TTC riders deserve a transit system with world-class cellular service,” said Tony Staffieri, chief executive, Rogers. “That’s why Rogers stepped up to do what’s right for Toronto transit riders. We’re working hard to modernize and expand the network so all riders can reliably access 911 and connect to 5G everywhere across the subway system, including underground. Today is an important milestone, and we’re just getting started.”

The ultimate phase would be to effectively onboard all other carriers so that they can also provide service on the TTC. To do so, they have to work out agreements with Rogers, who is responsible for operating and developing the existing wireless infrastructure in the TTC subway, following its acquisition of BAI Communications’ Canadian operations (BAI Canada).

This has led to a row between the providers, with Bell and Telus accusing Rogers of stonewalling, attempting to give itself a head start during a busy sales season and circumventing Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne’s new proposed conditions of licenses, such as ones that would prevent Rogers from launching service to the TTC before all providers are able to do so.

Onboarding the other carriers, Rogers has argued, would lead to further delays in the deployment of service, especially in an area like the TTC Subway that has unique constraints.

Fort Monaco, the chief of operations and infrastructure at the TTC, told CTV that deploying service has been a complicated process, adding, that crews would use work cars to move through the system, typically between 2 and 5 a.m. when trains are not running and install a vast network of cables and antennas to bring service down below.

Waiting to work out agreements with the other providers to deploy service concurrently would leave its rivals at least four weeks behind on installing and testing their equipment on the TTC, Rogers complained to ISED.

Prior to Rogers’ acquisition of BAI Canada, Freedom Mobile covered about six per cent of the system. Rogers said it will continue to provide service to Freedom Mobile customers and eventually upgrade the legacy cellular infrastructure to roll out 5G connectivity and 911 access across all 75 subway stations and nearly 80 kilometres of track.

Rick Leary, chief executive, TTC, said customers should remember to push the Yellow Emergency Strip in case of an emergency on the subway system, as well as dialing 911.

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Ashee Pamma
Ashee Pamma
Ashee is a writer for ITWC. She completed her degree in Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. She hopes to become a columnist after further studies in Journalism. You can email her at [email protected]

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