The federal government is mandating that Rogers Communications Inc. provide access to its cellular network to all wireless carriers in key areas of Toronto’s downtown subway by Oct. 3.
François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry announced on Monday that this deadline is one of the new spectrum license conditions aimed at extending cellphone and data services throughout the entire subway network by the conclusion of 2026.
“The message is simple. Enough is enough. That is the message that I’m sending to the telcos on behalf of millions of TTC riders who have been very, very patient,” he said. “We are forcing the telecoms to ensure that all subway users, regardless of the service providers, they have access to mobile services by Oct. 3.”
The newly imposed licence conditions are now in effect and necessitate all current mobile carriers in operation within Toronto to:
- provide equal-quality services to all Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) subway riders by October 3, 2023;
- quickly begin work to expand existing network coverage in order to provide full voice, text and data services throughout the TTC subway system within ambitious and specific timeframes; and
- provide service in all future stations and tunnels at the same time as they are made operational by the TTC.
Should mobile carriers fail to comply with these conditions, the Minister will take appropriate action, which may encompass imposing fines, suspending, or revoking a carrier’s spectrum license.
Mayor Olivia Chow supported the move at a press conference.
“Everyone should be able to have cell phone service on the subway, regardless of their carrier,” she said. “I welcome today’s announcement and invite mobile carriers to work together to quickly deliver the service that Torontonians need and deserve. People should be able to reliable on these services while riding the TTC.”
Today, in Toronto’s subway system, 9-1-1 calls function where there is signal, regardless of carrier. However, some customers do not have general voice and data access to the existing system.