Wind Mobile launches LTE service and rebrands as Freedom Mobile
Old plans will remain in place, but for a little extra, customers can now get LTE service
Wind Mobile is rebranding itself as Freedom Mobile and adding to its old 3G network with an LTE network that should be available in every market where it operates by August.
The company, which was acquired last year by Calgary-based Shaw Communications, has grown to roughly one million customers since its launch under foreign ownership in late 2008.
The company offers discounted mobile service in major urban centres, but on an inferior spectrum band that has been plagued by slow or dropped signals.
The new LTE service, to be first rolled out in Toronto and Vancouver on Nov. 27 and then everywhere else the company operates by the fall of 2017, could change all that.
Customers' bills could be changing too. Wind plans range between $25 and $50 a month for all-inclusive texting, talk and data plans that offer far more downloading capability than the big three — but on a network that makes it hard to ever take advantage of those numbers due to spotty service.
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While the company says existing plans will be unchanged, the new LTE service does see some modest price hikes. The lowest LTE offering will start at $40 for unlimited calling and texting within the U.S. and Canada, plus 6 gigabytes of LTE data.
CEO Alek Krstajic, who founded discount brand Public Mobile, which has since been acquired by Telus, said the company still represents a significant value proposition even at slightly higher prices.
"I don't think it serves Canadians to have prices go to where people go bankrupt and can't stay in business," he said. "I would argue at $45 a month we're still at a significant discount to the incumbents and their flanker brands."
Wind got its original name as the Canadian subsidiary of a European telecom firm that has since changed hands multiple times. With the launch of an LTE service, Krstajic said, the time was right to do away with the old name and brand the service as something completely new.