A major mobile carrier is concerned by the deal that will bring 5G cellphone service to Toronto’s subway system.
On Monday, Rogers revealed that it had acquired the Canadian operations of BAI Communications, which held exclusive rights to build the TTC’s wireless network since 2012.
With the acquisition, Rogers said it plans to build a “comprehensive and reliable” 5G network that will work across the entire subway system, starting with access to 911 for all riders.
Currently, TTC riders with any mobile carrier can call emergency services from all station platforms and concourses, but from only 25% of the system’s subway tunnels. Freedom Mobile is the only carrier that provides service through BAI’s existing network.
When asked whether the new 5G network would be available to all cellphone users on the TTC regardless of their mobile carrier, Nilani Logeswaran, a media relations spokesperson for Rogers, told STOREYS the company is planning to “initiate discussions with other providers to participate.”
Caroline Audet, a media relations spokesperson for Bell, however, said that the TTC and the City of Toronto’s decision to give the project to one sole provider for a second time was “troubling,” and that there are “no assurances” that competing carriers will have access to the new network.
“The TTC is just replacing one gatekeeper with another. Giving the contract to Rogers without any open bid process is surprising, especially given how TTC customers were so poorly served by BAI for so many years,” Audet told STOREYS.
“The City needs to show some leadership and mandate immediate access for all carriers so that all TTC customers can be served by the carrier of their choice right away.”
When asked why there was no opening bidding process, Stuart Green, a communications advisor with the TTC, said that “Rogers took over the BAI contract” and that the TTC will work with the telecommunications company “on revised terms to facilitate the buildout of the network.”
BAI Communications said that after a year of ongoing negotiations, the company decided that the best outcome for both the TTC and transit riders was a sale of its assets to Rogers.
Rogers said it will take approximately two years to build the new 5G network due to limited overnight construction windows. The cost of the project was not revealed.
Zoe Demarco is a Staff Writer at STOREYS and was formerly the Urbanized Editor at Daily Hive. Born and raised in Toronto, she has a passion for the city’s ever-changing urban landscape.