Toronto’s subway riders are closer to getting to use their cellular-connected devices in underground tunnels now that the municipal transit authority has approved a deal with a service provider.
However, there’s no date on when service will be available.
On Wednesday the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) agreed to award a contract worth $25 million over 20 years to Broadcast Australia Pty to build an open wireless network throughout the city’s 61-station subway system.
The city specified that all cellular carriers in the city have the ability to buy access on the network.
Broadcast Australia, which has experience in building public mobile networks including New York City’s subway system, issued a news release saying it will stay silent on its Toronto plans until a contract has been signed with the city.
It isn’t clear if devices will connect directly with cellular carriers underground, or through Wi-Fi and then to carriers. If the latter, then only Wi-Fi enabled devices will work.
Under the terms of the Toronto deal, Broadcast Australia has 12 months from the signing of an agreement to get contracts with carriers that total 60 per cent of the wireless subscribers in the city or risk losing the deal.
If it can’t hit that target, Broadcast Australia will have another 12 months to find another provider to take over the network.
Winning the city contract was relatively easy: Broadcast Australia had no competitors. BCE Inc.’s Bell Mobility and Extranet Systems of Chicago had pre-qualified to bid on the deal. However, Extranet withdrew in June and Bell, which bid $5.48 million, asked for certain exceptions in the terms to the point where its offer was considered non-compliant.