Free WiFi Coming to Two TTC Subway Stations Monday, November 25

by Istvan Fekete on November 25, 2013

The Toronto Star reports that TTC riders will be able to surf the Web for free in two subway stations starting today. Riders will be able to send and receive emails, and receive TTC alerts as the company with the contract to outfit 61 Toronto subway stations with wireless Internet turns on free Wi-Fi for St. George and Bloor-Yonge stations.

However, this is just the first step of the many required to break into the market. BAI Canada, the contractor in charge of the subway station’s wireless network, however, is still in trouble as it failed to attract a cell carrier that would allow riders to phone and text on the subway, TTC spokesman Brad Ross pointed out.

“Cell providers have not demonstrated an eagerness to participate at this stage, so there will be no cell service or texting,” he said on Friday.

BAI bought the rights to the TTC for 20 years, as it bid $20 million last year, at the same time as another qualified bidder, Bell Mobility, placed a bid of only $5.49 million.

The TTC is making everything possible to attract carriers, but up till now, there has been no positive feedback, which is bad news for BAI: once the station prototype is complete – and today seems like the company is making the finishing touches on the network – BAI has one year to lure a cell provider that combined would serve 60% of Toronto’ subscribers.

If it fails to close a contract within a year, it can extend it by another year. After that, the company can abandon the contract.

“We, the TTC, cannot force them out. It’s up to them. They have invested a great deal of money already in the system. The contract does not stipulate they must have cellular coverage in the system,” Ross said.

BAI Canada seems optimistic: they have experience in other markets as well, and they believe carriers will sign up with them. They have anticipated that it will take a while for the wireless carriers to make a decision, as it took 4 years to sign a wireless carrier to New York’s subway system, BAI Canada CEO Brian Jacks said.

Today, there will be a soft launch of the network, which will be followed by an official event in December.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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