Last month, federal Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne forced Rogers Communications Inc. to give BCE and Telus access to the Rogers-owned wireless network in the Toronto Transit Commission subway tunnels, saying that the telecoms could face penalties if they failed to make cellular service available to all riders by Oct. 3. Prior to Monday’s inclusion of BCE and Telus, only customers of Rogers CI-B-T and Quebecor Inc.’s QBR-B-T Freedom Mobile had wireless service on the TTC subway.
The intervention by Mr. Champagne ended a months-long impasse between the carriers that began in April when Rogers announced that it was acquiring BAI Canada Inc., the Canadian branch of an Australian telecommunications infrastructure company with the sole right to develop wireless infrastructure inside the subway system.
After the acquisition, the companies were unable to reach a deal over access to the Rogers-owned network, with both sides accusing the other of delaying negotiations.
Ellen Murphy, a spokesperson for Bell, on Monday thanked Mr. Champagne “for his leadership in ensuring that all wireless carriers have the ability to serve their customers in Toronto’s subway system, and that Rogers can no longer delay the deployment of wireless service for all TTC riders regardless of their choice of carrier.”
Ms. Murphy said Bell is currently in negotiations with Rogers regarding the rates for accessing the network. Mr. Champagne has given the companies 100 days to have commercial agreements in place. If they are unable to reach agreements through negotiations by Oct. 11, the parties are to begin arbitration.
Ron McKenzie, chief technology and information officer at Rogers, said in a statement that the company’s technologists have designed and implemented a solution that increased the capacity of the network, allowing Bell and Telus to offer service to their customers.
Previously, the network had “extremely limited” coverage and could not support all transit riders, the company said in a Monday press release.
“Today’s announcement is another milestone in our plan to make wireless services available throughout the entire subway system,” Rogers chief executive officer Tony Staffieri said in a statement.
Both Bell and Telus said they will be collaborating with Rogers to build out the remainder of the network.
“We’ll be working hard to expand the number of stations and tunnels covered in the coming months,” Telus spokesperson Richard Gilhooley said in a statement.