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Shaw’s Freedom Mobile Possibly Another Wireless Blunder: Globe

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Looking back over Shaw Communication’s past 20 years of activity, the Globe and Mail’s Rita Trichur concludes that the launch of Freedom Mobile (formerly known as Wind Mobile) seems like “yet another blunder”.

Freedom mobile

The reason is pretty straightforward considering Shaw’s wireless strategy over the past 20 years. The company has been wanting to do wireless for quite some time: it started with Fido. Shaw was one of the early investors in Microcell Telecommunications, which launched the Fido brand in 1996. But after pouring millions into the company, Shaw sold its near 10% share two years later to focus on its core business.

Fast forward seven years and we see Shaw’s CEO again claiming the company would roll out a cellphone service within six months. This likely involved a wholesale agreement with an established carrier, but since no deal materialized, Shaw again changed its mind.

But three years later, in 2008, it spent $190 million to licence public airwaves and announced plans to become a new carrier in the West, Prairies and Northern Ontario. Fast forward another three years and Shaw concludes that it doesn’t make any sense to invest $1 billion to build a cellphone network, so it sold its airwave licences to Rogers for $350 million. That was in 2015.

The same year, Shaw announced it was buying new entrant carrier Wind Mobile for $1.6 billion. Now Shaw poses as a new entrant in a market where the majority of subscribers own a smartphone and the market is dominated by three players: Rogers, Bell and Telus.

Now, Shaw has built its LTE service but has to fight the established carriers for every new customer. The strategy for that seems to be missing, however.

And there is a major problem: none of the trendy smartphones from Apple or Samsung operate on the LTE band of spectrum Shaw owns with Freedom Mobile. So, from this perspective, the whole wireless strategy is a “hot mess”, Trichur concludes.

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  • xeronine992

    I feel like this was a half finished post. I still think you accidentally clicked ‘publish’ instead of ‘save draft’.

    Not saying the future of Freedom Mobile is good or bad, but one can only assume as time goes on those LTE bands will be included in more phones.

  • raslucas

    When Shaw bought Wind, they didn’t have a choice about which band of LTE spectrum they had. It was Wind that was is financial troubles and opted out of the 700mhz spectrum. And Shaw probably didn’t know they were buying Wind for sure when they transferred their AWS-1 spectrum back to Rogers.

    To be honest, I think Shaw should look at buying Videotron’s west coast spectrum. I’m pretty sure they still have some they aren’t using.

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  • mauriceh

    I see 11 new models with AWS3 LTE this year. And it is only February.

  • The running joke in our house is shaw’s Limited Freedom network.
    My wife is on Freedom/Wind and because of Fido’s and others $40 for 4GB plan promos recently, she’s actually paying more than I am and she’s on Freedom.

    She has an iPhone, so no LTE. The signal in our house is spotty, outside is no problem, if you don’t mind slow data. She has a heck of a time playing Pokémon Go. Sometimes her phone will switch to “Freedom Away” meaning she’s roaming and inncuring extra charges just because the signal is too weak in some areas.

    I tried to get her on to Fido when they had their $40 deal, but she didn’t. Now she’s stuck with limited Freedom and regrets is, doesn’t want to pay more money.

    All other carriers just have to offer their $40 deals again for like a month, Freedom mobile would be in a panic.

  • meh

    I wouldn’t switch. How much data does your wife use? I personally consume about 11gb a month with my freedom plan. No other carrier would give me that for $65 a month. If you are a light data user, then freedom is probably not the right choice for you.

  • Mark Ritter

    I think you’re misinformed. There are only 2 commercially available phones which support the AWS3 band, and both of them are listed on the Freedom Mobile website.

  • Salinger

    He said “this year”. He’s not saying available right now, but confirmed to be released in 2017. By end of the year, handset selection will be a non-issue.

  • Damn, no I don’t know anyone who uses over 6GB, you must watch a lot of videos heh, or not much access to WiFi

    Her and I both use in between 2-3GB per month. Mostly Apple Music streaming, social media, web, etc. no Netflix or Kodi, minor YouTube.

  • mauriceh

    Precisely.

  • Mark Ritter

    You said “11 new models this year”, and you’re clearly misinformed as there are only 2 commercially available phones which support the AWS3 band.
    Unless
    you have product plans for phone manufactures, you can’t make that assumption. Either way, that doesn’t
    change the fact that only 2 phones are available, not 11.

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  • Stephen Schofield

    So. Here’s the reason to go Freedom Mobile. Straight forward as a customer. $50 CDN per month unlimited talk and text and data for all of North America. That’s it. Lots of 4G in the big centers and LTE coming soon The only limitation is that after 5Gb of data, you get your speed throttled. I you roam a lot as i do, you get throttled a lot faster. All in all, I couldn’t be happier with the dollars in my pocket by comparison to the Big Three gougers

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