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Minister Champagne announces wireless service will soon be available to all Toronto subway riders

Today the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced new spectrum licence conditions which will require carriers to provide all passengers on Toronto's subway system with access to cellular connectivity no later than October 3, 2023.

The Minister made the announcement alongside Olivia Chow, Mayor of Toronto, in the presence of several Toronto-area members of Parliament.

The new licence conditions are effective immediately and require all mobile carriers currently operating in Toronto to:

  • provide equal-quality services to all Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) subway riders by October 3, 2023;
  • quickly begin work to expand existing network coverage in order to provide full voice, text and data services throughout the TTC subway system within ambitious and specific timeframes; and
  • provide service in all future stations and tunnels at the same time as they are made operational by the TTC.

Should mobile carriers fail to meet these conditions, the Minister will take action as appropriate. This could include imposing monetary penalties or suspending or revoking a carrier's spectrum licence.

Canadians expect and deserve reliable telecommunications services—and in particular, access to emergency services when riding public transit. This is why the Government of Canada is taking action to require all carriers on Toronto's subway system to provide access to cellular connectivity as soon as possible.

Quotes

"Cellular connectivity on the subway is about more than just convenience. It is a critical public safety matter. TTC passengers have waited too long to access cellular services when riding the subway. That's why today we're taking immediate action on behalf of hundreds of thousands of frustrated passengers to require that by October 3, all subway riders have access to cellular services regardless of their mobile carrier."
– The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

"Everyone should be able to have cell phone service on the subway, regardless of their carrier. I welcome today's announcement and invite mobile carriers to work together to quickly deliver the service that Torontonians need and deserve. People should be able to reliable on these services while riding the TTC."
– Olivia Chow, Mayor of Toronto

Quick facts
  • Today, in Toronto's subway system, 9-1-1 calls function where there is signal, regardless of carrier. However, some customers do not have general voice and data access to the existing system.
  • Network upgrades will be needed to add capacity and expand coverage throughout the Toronto subway system.
  • Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) completed an expedited consultation process on the new licence conditions on August 28, 2023.
  • The complete text of the decision, including the new spectrum licence conditions, will be made available on ISED's website in the coming weeks. In the interim, the impacted licensees have been informed by ISED as to the details of the new licence conditions. The conditions are effective immediately, with service required to be offered by all carriers by October 3, 2023.
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