TTC rejects Bell, says it won’t ‘tear up the contract’ with BAI

The agency said it stood by the open transfer process that awarded BAI the subway contract and that the deal between BAI and Rogers was 'private.'

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) rejected Bell’s proposal for a joint, open-access model for wireless service on Toronto’s subways.

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green told The Canadian Press (via CP24) in an email that the agency wouldn’t “tear up the contract” it had with BAI to move ahead with a joint build as Bell wants:

“The ‘neutral host model,’ where one company builds the infrastructure and others join through an operating agreement, is common practice and works well in other jurisdictions. To suggest, as this letter does, we tear up the contract reached after an open and public bidding process and instead award our wireless services to another consortium without a public tender is a non-starter for the TTC.”

The response comes after Bell CEO Mirko Bibic replied to Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne’s call on major telecoms to reach a deal on wireless access in the subway. Bibic claimed Bell spoke unsuccessfully with the TTC, BAI and City officials multiple times about a joint, open-access model.

As a quick refresher, BAI won the contract for wireless infrastructure in the TTC subway in 2012. Besides Freedom Mobile in 2017, Canada’s major telecom companies refused to sign on with BAI to provide wireless service. Rogers announced earlier this month that it would acquire BAI’s Canadian division and, in turn, gain the rights to build out the TTC’s wireless network.

Green went on to say that the TTC “stands by the public and transparent” open tender process that started in 2009 and culminated with BAI getting the $25 million contract to build and operate the TTC’s wireless network. “Bell willingly participated in that open tender process, ultimately being outbid by $20 million,” Green said.

Moreover, Green called the proposal between Rogers and BAI a “private business transaction/acquisition” and said Bell and other companies “could have entered into [one] at any time over the past 12 years.”

Bell spokesperson Jacqueline Michelis told The Canadian Press that while the 2009 bidding process was open, Rogers’ “acquisition of BAI with TTC approval was not subject to an open bid and other parties, including Bell, were not invited to participate.”

In response to Champagne’s call, Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri said that Rogers has “been working with the TTC and BAI for over a year to open up access to the transit system” and urged Champagne to “not get caught up in the rhetoric of our competitors.” Staffieri reiterated Rogers’ commitment to working with other service providers.

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Source: The Canadian Press via CP24