November 21, 2016 12:21 pm
Updated: November 21, 2016 6:08 pm

Wind Mobile rebrands as Freedom Mobile, launches LTE service in Toronto, Vancouver

One of Canada’s upstart mobile phone companies is changing its name and image to try to attract new subscribers. As Sean O’Shea reports, Freedom Mobile is also dramatically raising data speeds in two of its largest markets beginning next week.

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Wind Mobile has undergone a makeover, rebranding as Freedom Mobile and introducing faster LTE service in Toronto and Vancouver.

Canada’s fourth-largest mobile phone company, which is now part of Shaw Communications, will launch its long-awaited LTE network on Nov. 27. But customers outside of the cities’ boundaries won’t be able to take advantage of the new service yet.

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Customers in the Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver areas will have to wait until spring 2017 to access LTE networks, along with those in Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton. The faster service will eventually be rolled out to the rest of Freedom Mobile’s coverage map by the end of 2017.

READ MORE: The best, cheapest cellphone plan in Canada in 2016

There’s one more catch – Freedom Mobile’s LTE offering only works for the LG V20 and ZTE Grand X4 smartphones. The company, which does not sell the iPhone, said more handsets will work on the service in 2017, but did not promise a timeline.

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Chief executive Alek Krstajic said the company is  leveraging the AWS-3 spectrum it purchased during the 2015 wireless spectrum auction to launch the LTE service. This is the first business move the company has made since Calgary-based Shaw Communications bought Wind for about $1.6 billion in a deal that closed in March.

Existing Wind customers will be automatically transferred over to Freedom Mobile’s system. All existing rates, discounts and tab terms will be unaffected by the re-branding.

READ MORE: Shaw completes deal for Wind Mobile

Canadian telecom expert Mark Goldberg said Wind’s new identity shows an investment on reliability, one that will provide Canadian consumers with a “good option” for cheaper data plans.

“[Freedom Mobile] is the same company it always was, with a bit of a fresh start,” Goldberg said.

“Wind Mobile, to date, has had a value proposition that they are cheaper in all senses of the term. They provided voice and data service, but not at high speeds. With LTE, Freedom Mobile is a lower-cost alternative with the same high-quality network as the major brands.”

But Goldberg noted that consumers should check Freedom Mobile’s network coverage before considering a switch from their current provider.

“Not every network provides outstanding coverage in every part of their territory. It’s really important that people know that when they are looking for a new service provider,” he said.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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