All Toronto subway riders will have access to cell service by October 3, regardless of their mobile carrier.
On Monday, the federal government announced new spectrum licence conditions which will require Rogers to provide other mobile carriers with the technical information they need to provide cell service on the TTC, and to come to commercial agreements within 100 days. Currently, Rogers is the sole provider of cell service on Toronto’s subway system.
By October 3, regardless of whether or not agreements have been reached, all mobile carriers must start offering cell service wherever it is available on the subway. Currently, that consists of tunnels from St. George to Bloor-Yonge on both Line 1 and Line 2, and in more than two dozen stations across both lines.
"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," said François-Philippe Champagne, the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry. "By October 3, all subway riders have access to cellular services regardless of their mobile carrier."
If a mobile carrier doesn’t meet the conditions, they may be subject to a fine or have their spectrum licence suspended or revoked, the minister noted.
Under the new licence conditions, all mobile carriers must begin expanding their existing network coverage so that they can offer full voice, text, and data services throughout Toronto's subway system.
“Ambitious and specific” timeframes have been established for the undertaking, with full service required in all subway stations by June 2024. Eighty percent of subway tunnels must have service by December 2025, and all tunnels must have service by December 2026. As well, cell service must be introduced in all new subway stations and tunnels within one year of them becoming operational.
"Everyone should be able to have cell phone service on the subway, regardless of their carrier. I welcome today’s announcement and invite mobile carriers to work together to quickly deliver the service that Torontonians need and deserve," Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow said. "People should be able to [rely] on these services while riding the TTC.”
In April, Rogers acquired the Canadian operations of BAI Communications, which had held exclusive rights to build the TTC's wireless network since 2012. At the time, the City of Toronto and TTC's decision to hand the project to one sole provider drew ire from other mobile carriers, with a spokesperson from Bell calling the move "troubling."