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Rogers launches next phase of cellular network build in TTC subway tunnels

Rogers launches next phase of cellular network build in TTC subway tunnels

TORONTO — Rogers Communications Inc. says it has begun installing infrastructure that will give TTC riders access to 5G cellular service in the three-quarters of subway tunnels where riders still can’t call, text or use data.

The company says the expansion to the remaining 36 kilometres of unconnected tunnels began last week on Line 2 between Kennedy and Warden stations.

Since late last year, Rogers’ wireless network has been available to passengers in every subway station, along with tunnels mostly concentrated downtown between St. George, Bloor-Yonge and Union stations.

Tunnel service is also available between Sheppard West and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre stations.

Rogers acquired the cellular network in the subway system from BAI Canada in April 2023, vowing to upgrade existing infrastructure — which only Freedom Mobile customers had access to since 2015 — and extend it across the subway map.

It sparked a tense public battle between Rogers and rival carriers Bell Canada and Telus Corp., which wanted to help build the network under a consortium model similar to that of Montreal’s Metro, rather than a licensing fee model. The companies reached a deal in December, but the terms were not disclosed.

The federal government also intervened during the standoff to mandate that riders have cell service on the subway regardless of their carrier. Rogers initially gave its own customers a head start on using the network when it activated it in the busiest portions of the system last summer.

Rogers has said it expects the entire project to take two years, as work is being completed during overnight and weekend construction windows to minimize disruption for riders.

The federal government’s mandate ensures voice, text and data services must be provided by all major carriers in 80 per cent of subway tunnels by December 2025, and the entire system a year later.

©2024 The Canadian Press

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