TTC cellphone service

You can now call and text on the TTC subway but there's a catch

Toronto subway riders can now use their cellphones at all 75 of the city's underground transit stations – without connecting to the TTC's own WiFi network first.

But only if they're on the Freedom Mobile network.

BAI Canada has announced the completion of its "cellular connectivity infrastructure" today, which means that every subway stop has been fully equipped for 4G/LTE network coverage on platforms, mezzanines, stairwells and in other public areas.

There's also cellular service in all nine kilometres of the tunnels for the new subway extension and within the downtown loop of Line 1 (from Bloor to St. George stations.)

Technologically speaking, this is huge. In theory, we can make calls, send texts, and do whatever else we'd normally do with our phones while stuck underground waiting for a subway (and in some areas while riding it.)

It's what the people of Toronto have been asking for, TTC Chair Josh Colle tells the Toronto Star, and something the transit agency is proud to deliver.

If only our biggest wireless networks would get on board.

As it stands, Freedom Mobile (formerly Wind Mobile) is the only carrier to sign a deal with BAI to use its new underground cellphone network.

TTC passengers who happen to be with Rogers, Telus or Bell – read: 90 per cent of all riders – are flat out of luck.

"I think they’ve got to get over themselves," said Colle of the country's biggest telecoms in an interview with The Star, suggesting that the big three "step up and give their customers what they want."

Colle speculates that Bell, Rogers and Telus execs are "reluctant to ink a deal with BAI" because they would have preferred to build the infrastructure on their own. Historically speaking, it's a sound theory.

"The system is in place," he said. "They can provide this to their customers tomorrow if they wanted to."

Until that happens, the vast majority of Torontonians will be unable to make use of the new infrastructure. We'll have to stick to use of the free public WiFi network the TTC finished rolling out on platforms in September.

Fortunately, we don't need the blessing of our wireless providers to use WiFi.

Lead photo by

Bruce Reeve


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