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TTC documents suggest Rogers would use consortium model for wireless network build

A Toronto Transit Commission sign is shown at a downtown Toronto subway stop Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. Documents suggest Rogers Communications Inc. intended to build out the TTC's wireless network with its rival carriers under a consortium model when it purchased the Canadian operations of BAI Communications in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

Documents suggest the TTC thought Rogers Communications Inc. would build out the subway wireless network with its rival carriers under a consortium model when it purchased the Canadian operations of BAI Communications in April.

While Bell Canada and Telus Corp. have both fiercely advocated for a joint build of the upcoming 5G network though a consortium model similar to that of Montreal’s Metro system, rejecting a pay-for-access approach, Rogers has not publicly committed to either model.

A TTC briefing note shows the transit agency expected the company to invite other carriers “to join them in a consortium model, similar to how other network transit systems in Canada are deployed.”

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The note was sent to the City of Toronto’s TTC board of commissioners on April 10 in advance of Rogers’ announcement later that day about acquiring BAI’s Canadian arm.

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The TTC says Rogers never committed to the transit agency that it would proceed with a consortium model and chalked up the language in the briefing note to a misunderstanding over the “technical definition” of the word.

Spokesman Stuart Green says TTC communications staff were using “consortium” to mean “working with other carriers” on the operations side rather than a specific term about a proposed cost-sharing model.

But documents also show that the TTC was aware of requests from rival carriers to ensure a consortium cost-sharing model.

One month before Rogers’ announcement, Bell urged the TTC to use its right of approval to “adopt a consortium approach as part of any new arrangement for the provision of wireless services in the subway system.”

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