Wind Mobile settles three-year effort to offer wireless service on Canada Line

It’s taken three years, but dropped calls and unsent text message are now a thing of the past for Wind Mobile customers travelling on the Canada Line.

Beginning Monday (April 6) the wireless carrier is offering uninterrupted service throughout all the underground portions of the SkyTrain system linking Richmond to downtown Vancouver.

The Canada Line opened in the summer of 2009 and Telus spent $2 million building the infrastructure to support underground wireless service throughout the tunnels.

While other carriers such as Rogers (TSX:RCI) and Bell (TSX:BCE) paid Telus to use the infrastructure, Wind complained the cost was too high.

The company filed a petition with the Canada Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in 2012, requesting access to the tunnels to build its own infrastructure.

But InTransitBC and the City of Vancouver asked the CRTC to dismiss the petition, saying Wind was underestimating the technical challenges of installing its own infrastructure. Instead, it said the company should go back to negotiate with Telus.

UPDATED April 7: When contacted by Business in Vancouver, Wind confirmed a day later it joined the Telus infrastructure instead of building its own underground wireless system.

The Canada Line extends underground for eight stops throughout Vancouver, while Wind’s voice, data and text coverage will continue throughout the tunnels and mezzanines connecting the stations.

Newly appointed Wind CEO Alek Kstrajic said in a statement that offering uninterrupted coverage is “the next step” toward expanding its network.

In March, the Ministry of Industry announced Wind paid the minimum bid amount of $56 million in a wireless spectrum auction for AWS-3 spectrum in B.C., Alberta and southern Ontario.

While AWS-3 allows much stronger mobile signals for wireless customers, Wind founder Tony Lacavera told Business In Vancouver in March the company would need an additional $300-400 million to invest in infrastructure to support better network infrastructure.