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Wind Mobile rebrands Freedom Mobile, launches LTE network in Toronto, Vancouver

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!

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

10 Comments
  • Great news, but since I'm in the Edmonton area, I will stick to Fido until Freedom Mobile gets LTE in the area. Besides, I have an S7 and don't want to switch phones for a new network as it would be an expensive switch. Hopefully when the BlackBerry Mercury hits the market, it will be compatible.
  • Most phones released next year will support Band 66
  • Soooo Freedom mobile is two sheets to the wind?
  • lol
  • I hope Freedom Mobile shakes up the Big Three up here. It is ridiculous what they're charging.
  • Yeah, that would be good. The rate plans from The Big Three are ridiculously high and the amount of data you get with the cheapest plan they offer at $80 is only 500 MB. I'm currently with TELUS' flanker brand Koodo and prices are lower than those from parent company TELUS and are price plans are better than those from TELUS but prices are still high compared to what I would be paying if I was with WIND, now known as Freedom Mobile. I'll wait and see how things go with Freedom Mobile before seriously considering a decision to switch over. Their phone plans are pretty good but the network coverage and network reliability have been areas of concern that have kept me from switching over in the past.
  • Do they use Bell telus towers for service in rural? or do they not work outside urban areas? And if they do piggy back Bell/telus does it cost the customer for roaming?
  • There is no LTE roaming right now — you'll piggyback on Bell and Rogers 3G networks when outside of the LTE coverage zones.
  • I've been a Rogers customer for over a decade and I'm seriously considering. The only way wind (now freedom) can actually shake up this monopoly in Canada is if people actually migrate to their services, and I think it's time that everyone says enough is enough to Rogers, Bell, and Telus with their ridiculous pricing.
  • I would hop on if it were compatible with existing phone bands. Not going to drop a $1000 for a compatible phone.