No cell service underground feels unsafe, according to survey

Cell service in the subway system could be available on all platforms, and in certain area within the tunnels.

Telecom companies slow to sign up to provide service.

Cell service in the subway system could be available on all platforms, and in certain area within the tunnels.
Cell service in the subway system could be available on all platforms, and in certain area within the tunnels.

Shahroze Rauf, S@Y News

Cell service in the TTC is available. But, transit-riders like 16-year-old Alishah Sheikh cannot access this service underground. Which is why Sheikh plans on signing BAI Communications' IWantAccess petition, to push for cell service in the subway tunnels.


What is BAI Communications?

BAI Communications is the neutral service provider underground. Meaning telecom companies that sign up with BAI Communications can offer their users service in the subway system. The only company to have signed up with this service is Freedom Mobile.

“We’re looking forward to talking with the big three, to see how we can make this deal work. We can’t speak to their business strategies but have heard from their comments to the media that they would like to work with their competitors to build a network,” says Senior Marketing Manager at BAI Communications Negar Kiaee.


Why is subway service important now?

Most concerns have been for safety, with more than half of respondents saying they would feel safer with cell service, as per a survey conducted by BAI Communications this year. Sheikh says she’s had experiences herself where cellphone service would have been helpful.

“I was going to a job interview on the subway and it was pretty dark, around 6:30 or so. There were two older men who were harassing me, so I felt unsafe. I couldn’t call anyone, and I felt if I got out of the subway, they would have followed me,” says Sheikh. “I was very shaken up and scared.”

Almost all UK surveyed rail passengers said cell service is beneficial

Aside from safety, BAI Communications is looking forward for TTC riders to have connectivity underground for various other reasons.

According to a 2018 study by the company on UK rail users found:

  • 90% of passengers said an improved mobile signal while travelling would be beneficial
  • 61% said it would ease their level of stress
  • Almost half said they would take the train more often with service was consistent

BAI Communications continues to discuss with other telecom companies to arrive at an agreement for connectivity underground. There is a possibility that telecom companies are looking to set up a service similar to what was done in Montreal’s STM.

“I think [people] need to speak to their providers and let them know their concerns and that they want access to cell service underground,” says Kiaee.

The demand for service is high, and like many TTC riders, Sheikh is hoping the telecom companies sign up with BAI Communications.

“You should consider other people’s lives more than your own business. People can face danger underground and won’t be able to call their family to let them know where they are. It can be scary,” says Sheikh.

For now, BAI Communications’ is urging transit users to sign the petition and push the large telecom companies in Ontario to allow their users service underground.


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