Canada's Wind Mobile has rebranded Freedom Mobile as it looks to move into a new phase of maturity under new owner, Shaw Communications.
The upside is this: while the orange-and-blue branding remains intact, Wind's transition to Freedom Mobile decouples it from the often-controversial global Wind Mobile brand, and allows Shaw to move beyond the "new entrant" moniker into something that resembles a true competitor to the flanker brands of incumbents like Rogers, Telus, and Bell. It was no coincidence that Public Mobile (under Telus), Fido and Virgin have all been offering extremely competitive 4GB plans in recent weeks.
Freedom Mobile's AWS-3 powered LTE network will launch in Toronto and Vancouver on November 27, rolling out the Greater Toronto and Vancouver areas by spring of next year. Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa will receive LTE by next summer, and Freedom's entire network will be awash in high-speed wireless by the fall of 2017.
To start, the company is offering two phones that run on its LTE network, the LG V20 and ZTE Grand X 4, which is coming in the days ahead. A single LTE plan will also be offered, a $40 promotional piece that includes 6GB of LTE data, unlimited calls to Canada and the U.S., unlimited global texting, reduced roaming rates, and voicemail/call display.
Shaw is calling Freedom Mobile's LTE network "traffic-free" because it runs on AWS-3 spectrum, which is completely unused across Canada right now. Indeed, only T-Mobile has rolled it out in parts of the U.S., and sparsely at that. To get a bit technical, Freedom's LTE network is actually a hybrid of AWS-3 and AWS-1 depending on the location: the former in the GTA, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton; the later in Eastern Ontario, which needed to be re-farmed after Videotron purchased all of the AWS-3 spectrum in that area.
The company says that peak speeds will be 180Mbps at 64QAM, which isn't quite as fast as the carrier aggregation-enabled LTE-Advanced speeds we're used to seeing from Bell and Rogers, but it's a considerable jump from Wind Mobile's 3G days. Freedom says that it is still planning to upgrade its 3G networks across Canada to support its one million-plus existing customers. As promised, it says VoLTE and VoWiFi will also be offered at a future date.
Lots of good stuff here, especially for existing Wind Mobile customers looking forward to inexpensive LTE service in Canada. Those traveling from Wind's LTE network to either Home 3G or Away 3G areas will still experience slower service, and the transition may be a bit awkward for a few months, but over time the situation should improve dramatically.
Are you a Rogers, Telus or Bell customer looking to switch over to the new Freedom Mobile? Let us know in the comments!