Rogers Buys BAI Canada To Bring Cell Phone Service To Toronto’s Subway System…. What About TELUS And Bell?

For a very long time, a company called BAI Canada have had the ability to provide support for Canadian cell phone carriers to bring support for cell phone service to Toronto’s subway system. The only company to leverage that has been Freedom Mobile who is now owned by Videotron thanks to the Rogers / Shaw deal. The lack of the “big three” cell carriers participating in this deal has been a sore point for subway users in Toronto for years. And it has been highlighted in recent weeks due to the spike in violence on Toronto’s transit system. Today, Rogers has announced that it has bought BAI Canada to address part of that:

Rogers has entered into an agreement to acquire BAI Communications’ Canadian operations (BAI Canada), which held the exclusive rights to build the Toronto Transit Commission’s wireless network since 2012. With this acquisition, Rogers will now be able to undertake the investments required to build a comprehensive and reliable 5G network to the entire TTC subway system.

This commitment is particularly important to ensure access to 911 services across the entire subway system. Today, TTC users with any mobile provider can call 911 only where the cellular network exists – on station platforms, concourses, and approximately 25% of the tunnels. Rogers will work to quickly address gaps in the busiest and most critical sections of the subway system.

My question is, where does this leave TELUS and Bell? Are they shut out from having anything more than 911 service? Or will Rogers come to some sort of agreement with the other two telcos to give them broader access to the network that they plan on building? This is an important question as BAI had an exclusive agreement for this infrastructure. And I don’t see Rogers making a change in that area.

My view of this is that given the rise in violence on Toronto transit, all cell phone providers need to be part of this. And all cell phone services need to be provided to all cell phone providers. So I hope that Rogers opens this up to rest of the “big three” and others. And I hope if Rogers doesn’t do that on their own, they are forced to do so by the CRTC or by the government.

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