You may not know what Wind Mobile is – of course, compared to the Big Three in Canada and their corresponding “regional networks,” Wind Mobile is in its very nascent stage. But you might be hearing more about it in the near future, especially for those living in Toronto and Vancouver, because it will soon launch its LTE network in those areas under a brand new name, Freedom Wireless.
The wireless carrier is owned by Calgary-based Shaw Communications Inc. The rebranding of the wireless network and the unveiling of its LTE rollout plan are the first major strategic move the company has made since its $1.6 million purchase of Wind Mobile back in March.
Since last year, Wind Mobile began replacing its old 3G radio equipment in British Columbia and Alberta in order to prepare for LTE, something that is already offered by major carriers in Canada such as Bell, Rogers, and Telus. And although Wind Mobile – now known as Freedom Mobile – has long ways to go until full launch, it will begin its LTE service in Toronto and Vancouver starting November 27th. Shaw hasn’t provided specific dates, but its coverage should be expanding to other areas by the fall of 2017.
According to the company, existing plans with Freedom Mobile will remain unchanged, but new LTE plans will see an increase in price. That’s not to say that it won’t be competitively priced, however. The lowest LTE offering will start at $40 (CAD), which gives you unlimited calling and texting as well as 6GB of high-speed LTE data. Compared to the Big Three, Freedom Mobile’s price range may give the company a serious advantage.
However, one thing to note is that Freedom Mobile’s LTE spectrum is in the AWS-3 frequency band, and there aren’t many devices that are compatible with this frequency. It is true that we are starting to see more and more manufacturers incorporating that band in their design, but this ultimately means that customers who bring their own devices may not be able to take full advantage of Freedom Mobile’s network. Not only that, this is a frequency band on which a lot of users in the past experienced inferior quality and dropped calls.
However, one thing to note is that Freedom Mobile’s LTE spectrum is in the AWS-3 frequency band, and there aren’t many devices that are compatible with this frequency.
We will have to wait until late next year to see how Freedom Mobile’s plans pan out, but quite frankly, given my experience with Rogers and Bell, I’m happy to see that there will be another option in the market for Canadian smartphone users.