The Canadian government has announced new spectrum licence conditions that will require cellphone carriers to provide cellular connectivity for all passengers on Toronto’s subway system by October 3, 2023. The new conditions mandate that mobile carriers must provide equal-quality services to all Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) subway riders and expand network coverage to offer full voice, text, and data services throughout the subway system.
These conditions are aimed at improving public safety and ensuring reliable telecommunications services for TTC passengers, including access to emergency services. Failure to comply may result in penalties or the suspension or revocation of a carrier’s spectrum licence.
The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, emphasized the importance of cellular connectivity on the subway as a critical public safety matter. The Minister stated that subway riders have waited long enough for access to cellular services and that immediate action is necessary to address the frustrations of hundreds of thousands of passengers.
Olivia Chow, Mayor of Toronto, also expressed support for the new licence conditions and called for mobile carriers to work together to quickly deliver the service that Torontonians need and deserve. Chow highlighted the importance of reliable cellphone service while riding the TTC.
Currently, 9-1-1 calls function in areas with signal, regardless of carrier, but some customers do not have general voice and data access within the subway system. Network upgrades will be necessary to add capacity and expand coverage throughout the Toronto subway system.
The decision on the new licence conditions was made by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and will be made available on their website soon. The conditions are effective immediately, with all carriers required to offer the service by October 3, 2023.