The federal government announced Monday that cell phone service must be made available to all TTC subway riders, regardless of their cell phone provider, as of October 3, 2023.
"Cellular connectivity on the subway is about more than just convenience. It is a critical public safety matter," said François-Philippe Champagne, Canada's Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry in a statement.
"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."
For the last two months, Rogers has been the only cell phone provider delivering 5G cell phone service to TTC subway riders, after purchasing BAI Canada, a company that had previously held the exclusive rights to build the TTC's wireless network, in April.
Despite promising to work with other carriers to provide broader cell phone access on the subway system, Rogers is still the only mobile carrier to offer it.
With the federal government now weighing in on the matter, it has enforced new licensing conditions that require all mobile carriers operating in Toronto to provide "equal quality" cell phone service to TTC customers by October 3.
The government is also demanding mobile carriers work to expand network coverage to include "full voice, text, and data services throughout the TTC subway system," and to provide cell service "in all future stations and tunnels at the same time as they are made operational by the TTC."
More specific timelines on those conditions haven't been announced yet, but the government threatened actions such as potential monetary penalties or even revoking a carrier's license if they fail to meet these new conditions.
"Canadians expect and deserve reliable telecommunications services—and in particular, access to emergency services when riding public transit," reads a government press release. "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."
Monday's news is another recent change making it easier and more convenient for TTC customers after a new proof of payment update allows transit riders to pay for their ride using a debit, credit card, or mobile device.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.