The CEO of Bell Canada is calling for the wireless network in Toronto’s subway system to be a “joint build” between the major telecom players, and says Bell and Telus Corp. are willing to buy the contract if Rogers Communications Inc. isn’t willing to implement such an approach.
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Bell chief executive Mirko Bibic made the comments in a letter to Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne dated April 19, after the minister urged Canada’s telecom companies to provide an update on the arrangements being made to ensure service is available more broadly in the underground transit system.
Debate over the TTC contract was sparked when Rogers announced on April 11 that it was acquiring BAI Communications Canada, which has held the exclusive rights to build cellular and Wi-Fi networks across the Toronto Transit Commission’s subway system since 2012.
“When we learned of this, we immediately expressed our interest in the project and urged the TTC to require as a condition of its approval of the transfer from BAI to Rogers, that an open access, joint-build model be adopted,” Bibic wrote, adding that Bell has yet to receive a response from the TTC.
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A spokesperson for Rogers told the Financial Post that the company plans to initiate discussions with other providers to participate in its plan to bring 5G network to the system, which it said will deliver wireless coverage with mobile voice and data services in all 75 stations.
“As we build out the network, we will work with other providers to bring them on board,” spokesperson Cam Gordon said.
Rogers did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding Bibic’s letter to Champagne.
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Bibic said Bell has written to Rogers chief executive Tony Staffieri asking for confirmation that Rogers will adopt an open
access, joint-build approach like those used in other major transit projects. He said Bell has not received a response.
He added that Bell and Telus have followed up with an offer to acquire the BAI contract and committed to deploy open access.