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Rogers ordered to open TTC wireless network to all carriers: Minister

The Canadian Press
Rogers ordered to open TTC wireless network to all carriers: Minister

TORONTO – The federal government is forcing Rogers Communications Inc. to grant all wireless carriers access to its cellular network in core parts of Toronto’s downtown subway by Oct. 3.

Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Monday that the deadline is part of new spectrum licence conditions, designed to bring cellphone and data services to the entire subway network by the end 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,” said Champagne.

“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.”

Currently, only Rogers and Freedom Mobile customers have access to the network.

The minister is giving mobile carriers, including rivals Bell and Telus, until Dec. 20 to reach commercial agreements with Rogers about financial terms.

While the Oct. 3 deadline covers only the existing network, the federal government is requiring service be in place for all stations within six months of the commercial agreements being reached. Service needs to be in place for 80 per cent of tunnels within two years, and full coverage by the end of 2026.

Rogers, which unexpectedly started providing 5G service to some areas of the TTC on Aug. 23 to its own customers, welcomed the mandate.

“This approach reflects what we’ve been proposing all along – to bring 5G services to all riders as quickly as possible,” said spokeswoman Sarah Schmidt in a statement.

“Bell and Telus have been dragging their heels and the federal government is now forcing them to work with us in earnest to make connectivity possible for all riders.”

She said the company would continue to work to build out the TTC network it bought as it looks to expand access.

Telus also said the minister’s decision would be helpful in improving public safety and fair competition.

“Telus is pleased by today’s decision to compel Rogers to provide access to all carriers on the TTC,” said spokesman Richard Gilhooley.

“It is regrettable that it took his action to force Rogers to do what they had promised to do months ago.”

BCE Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The telecom companies have clashed for months over TTC network access and the commercial terms around it.

The government says that if carriers fail to meet the conditions, including the Oct. 3 deadline, it could take measures including fines or licence suspension.

“The message could not be stronger, and I expect them fully to comply with that. If they fail to do so, we will take enforcement action,” said Champagne.


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