The federal government isn’t set to hold its fifth generation (5G) 3500 MHz wireless spectrum auction until 2020, but when it does, there will be a set aside for smaller entrants aimed at driving wireless competition in Canada.
With 5G networks, Canadians will see faster wireless speeds and connections, higher bandwidth and more connections for devices of all shapes and sizes.
According to IDC VP of communication research, Lawrence Surtees, he believes smaller players like Shaw’s Freedom Mobile will be the first wireless carrier in Canada to launch 5G networks, ahead of incumbents Rogers, Telus and Bell.
Speaking to IT World Canada, Surtees said for Freedom to jump from 4% market share to 25% market share, the wireless company will have to differentiate itself from the ‘Big 3’—with unlimited data plans.
“And I thought we’ll find the one radical thing we haven’t had anybody do yet…a [truly] unlimited data plan. There’s no way Telus or Rogers would be first to do that. There’s like a status quo between the three similar positions, and they want to hold on to what they’ve got,” said the analyst.
The analyst says with 5G, Freedom Mobile will “be in a position to have more ubiquitous national coverage which they lack right now. And so, my view is when they get their 5G licenses and roll it out nationally, then bingo, they can go ‘okay, here’s unlimited wireless data’. They got nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Recently, incumbents spent big money in Canada’s 600 MHz wireless spectrum auction, specifically Rogers dishing out $1.7 billion.
Unlimited wireless data plans have never been adopted in Canada by Rogers, Telus or Bell. However, when Freedom Mobile was known as WIND Mobile, a $39 per month plan with unlimited data 3G data was available, despite the company’s limited coverage areas.
In 2016, Bell said in an interview, “For many customers, the usage-based approach is by far the most economical option,” when asked about unlimited data plans.
As for Rogers, when asked about unlimited data plans, the company said at the time, “the network capacity isn’t there and it would weaken performance for everyone.”
Currently, the federal government is still reviewing the future of 5G networks in Canada and whether or not to ban China’s Huawei hardware. The Chinese company is accused by the United States and other allies of being a state-sponsored entity capable of espionage.
Could we see unlimited data plans roll out with 5G networks in Canada?