TTC eyes launch of cellphone, wireless service in subways

Using a cellphone while waiting for the subway is still a wish for many, but it is a step closer to becoming a reality.

The Toronto Transit Commission is currently in talks to add cellular coverage, including wifi, to most stations, although it won’t be available throughout the entire subway system for another four years says TTC Director of Communications, Brad Ross.

“As a pilot project, cell service will be available in two stations to determine what challenges the supplier may face when installing the hardware in the station.” Ross said.  “We need to make sure that the system (being used) does not interfere with our signal (radio) based system.”

Broadcast Australia will pay the TTC $25 million over 20 years for the rights to run the network; they have up to two years to sign up Canadian providers says a TTC report.

Signal strength may not be the best in connecting tunnels, but TTC passengers will have coverage on subway platforms says Ross.

TTC transit driver, Phillip De-Coteau says cellphone coverage will be convenient for commuters: “Customers always ask when (the TTC) will have (cellphone) service in our subway system. They yearn for it,” De-Coteau said. “Now I can tell them it’s coming soon.”

However, not every passenger is looking forward to the change.

Andrew Ricketts, commutes to work from Scarborough to down town daily and says that overhearing another phone conversation would be annoying.

“Its bad enough that the subway is over crowded every morning with passengers but to hear them talking on the phone too, no thanks,” Ricketts said. “The TTC needs to work on having more trains and more space.”

“Cellphone and wifi (coverage) will not be in the tunnels, it will be on the platforms only,” Ross said.