Freedom Mobile expands its LTE network, adds new LTE roaming partner

freedom mobile store front - freedom mobile lte expansion

In an interview with MobileSyrup, Freedom Mobile has detailed the expansion of its Band 66 LTE network outside of Toronto and Vancouver, along with plans for future expansion and an update on LTE roaming partners.

The operator launched its LTE network in downtown Toronto and Vancouver in late November 2016. By the end of February 2017, Brampton, Mississauga and Milton were live, and as of March 31st it turned on areas as far west of Toronto as Brantford and including Hamilton and Burlington. On the eastern side of Toronto, it now covers everywhere from Scarborough to Bowmanville, including Oshawa, Ajax and Pickering.

Upcoming roll-out

freedom mobile toronto

Freedom expects to cover its entire footprint north of Toronto — Richmond Hill through Barrie — in the next month.

Outside of Vancouver, the company turned on LTE service in Coquitlam, Surrey and White Rock as of late March. Langley through Abottsford is expected to go live within the next month or so, covering its entire Vancouver area footprint with LTE service.

“Everything’s gone well,” says Brian O’Shaughnessy, Freedom’s executive vice-president of technology services. “We’ve hit all the dates that the guys told me they would hit.”

freedom mobile lte vancouver

Once the company’s Toronto and Vancouver surrounding area footprint is complete, Freedom will turn to Calgary and Edmonton, which is expected to be complete “by summer time.” In that same time frame, O’Shaughnessy stated that Ontario areas Ottawa, St. Catherines and Kitchener-Waterloo will also go live.

The rest — London, Windsor, Kingston, Peterborough and Barrie — are likely to come later in the year. The company’s website says ‘summer-fall’ and O’Shaughnessy sticks by that prediction.

New LTE options and roaming partner

Freedom Mobile Bear

Alongside its own LTE coverage, other elements of the company are also growing. For instance, O’Shaughnessy notes that the company recently launched a new LTE roaming partnership in Ontario with a major carrier — sources point to Bell, which has provided Freedom with 3G roaming service in the past.

O’Shaughnessy says the company is working on LTE roaming partnerships in the west as well, that will launch in the “coming months.”

On top of that, there are the revamped plans, featuring many new LTE data offerings, and its ever-growing selection of LTE devices. At launch, only the LG V20 was available and only one LTE plan. Now, customers are able to choose from four LTE data plans and four LTE-ready handsets, with two on the way — the premium, and highly-anticipated Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+.

“We’re a value brand, I think that’s our niche in the market. I don’t think we have aspirations to go upscale.”

When asked if he believes the next iPhone flagship will support Band 66, the slightly obscure spectrum that allows Freedom to compete with the Big Three in providing LTE, O’Shaughnessy stated only: “we’re crossing our fingers.”

He did note, however, that the company expects to have double the LTE Android handsets available — a full dozen — by the end of the summer, spanning all pricing tiers.

Same value proposition

Freedom Mobile store logo

With all these new premium options, it would be reasonable for subscribers to worry that prices will also become premium, but vice-president of brand and communications Karen Harbin says that won’t be the case.

“We’re a value brand, I think that’s our niche in the market. I don’t think we have aspirations to go upscale,” said Harbin.

She pointed to the new LTE plan selection as proof — if they had meant to increase their pricing, they could have instituted a two-tier pricing system for 3G versus LTE, but instead they gave all data plans LTE service.

After a somewhat rocky start to Freedom’s LTE journey, in which eligible customers didn’t begin receiving advertised speeds at launch — O’Shaughnessy reveals this was due to “a software issue deep in the phone” — it appears that Freedom’s young LTE network is now beginning to hit its stride.

Comments

  • Gary Taylor

    They should address the areas which doesn’t have coverage in Metro Vancouver. Lots of areas in Burnaby and Surrey especially.
    And now LTE to 4g changes a lot and everytime you make a call, signal drops so many times.
    I don’t know why they don’t address those issues. Just branding your network as LTE won’t get you anywhere.

    • Techguru86

      The data is lte as far as I know, not voice

    • Gary Taylor

      Did you understand my comment.?

  • Thomas C. Riddell

    I am keeping to old phone and plan no thank on LTE Speeds are good enough on current old network for me stay

  • bmccull

    When asked if he believes the next iPhone flagship will support Band 66, the slightly obscure spectrum that allows Freedom to compete with the Big Three in providing LTE, O’Shaughnessy stated only: “we’re crossing our fingers.”

    FWIW, T-Mobile has stated that they won’t carry new phones that don’t cover all their spectrum. John Legere has been teasing about the upcoming iPhone so it seems he knows it has Band 66.

    • iTeodoro

      So that means the new iPhone will have Band 66 installed? If so…Freedom would be able to compete with the BIG 3.

  • Spyrow13

    They should also improve there service network across GTA specially along wilson and keele at the humber river hospital inside the emeegency room treatment area and the entire hospital building there service network is Very Frustrating..they have no service network..i cannot even call my famiily that i am in the hospital..lucky for me a fellow patient let me borrowed his phone under telus service provider..

    • Fearless OneSix

      Yeah while I agree with you I’ve conceded that I will be with WINDom as long as I am in or near downtown GTA. My thinking is as simple as this:

      You get what you pay for.

      What I pay with WINDom right now would be about 1gb service for two lines from team pirate ROBELUS whereas with WINDom I have 3 lines with 5plus gb. Data service.

      I feel your pain but if I wanted better service coverage/speeds I know I’d have to go with the pirate 3. But I get you, it would be nice to have better area coverage but you have to pay for that as of now and I I’m okay with that as ongoing as we still have another option to go to rather than the pirate 3. But we will see what SHAW has up their sleeve next year…

  • I seem to be averaging about 32 Mbps down and 21 Mbps up with 50ms ping here in Hamilton! My best speeds have been around 53 Mbps down and 32 Mbps up! I’m happy with the service, been with them for about 4 years now!

    • Andrew English

      Just wait until everyone has upgraded to LTE, then watch our speeds slow to a crawl. 🙂

    • Joseph

      Once everyone is on LTE hopefully the switch everything to VoLTE and than refarm their older spectrum to LTE to cover growing pains. Plus the faster they get VoWiFi out the better the LTE change over will be.

  • Andrew English

    Freedom needs to really re-consider the T-Mobile drop and add them back. I don’t think AT&T has Band 66 support in the US, I know they have Band 4 AWS support however.

  • Ramzi.Aladin

    As long as Freedom is free to operate the Windmoblie way it will remain as a great customer friendly value based company but I do worry about Shaw creeping in too much.

    • Fearless OneSix

      Agreed… but really “FREEDOM” rebranding didn’t make me feel any better as a customer. And sorry, not sorry as a tangent:

      Seriously? Get rid of that orange bear mascot.

      It is cringey and makes me feel… uncomfortable rather than “yay its a welcoming fuzzy bear.” Idk, it just… idk, it looks creepy and almost desperate looking. Ewww.

  • therealsybarite

    @Rose Behar, What’s the status of VoWiFi? If you talked to them and didn’t ask i’ll be disappointed.
    LTE is nice and all, but it won’t be available to most of their customers for a while, plus those that will have it as option will not all go out and get new phones right away. That means there are a lot of people stuck with severely spotty coverage.

  • fred

    wow, coverage is about on par with my WiFi network

  • Igor Babichev

    After they announced the LTE-compatible “everywhere” plan (the $59 one) I switched immediately without hesitation, as this is what I’ve been waiting for ever since I got my LG V20 and switched to the $45 LTE plan. Spent a day in Whistler and had no issues using away data and calls (Whistler has some Freedom coverage in the village base, but not on the mountains).
    Now 3 things I’m still waiting for that would bring me absolute joy:
    – VoLTE – currently my outgoing calls take anywhere between 5 and 10 seconds to initiate or receive, because phone defaults to LTE, and has to drop back to HSPA+ for voice calls, which is not always as instance as one would hope
    – VoWiFi – this is crucial for their success. This would: 1. Improve coverage indoors (a lot of people have access to wifi at most places they spend time at during the day, be it home, office or coffee shop, especially one with Shaw Go). It would at the same time significantly decrease the load on the network, as majority of the calls will now start going through WiFi/IP instead of the actual cell network.
    – Removing the stupid restriction on outgoing calls/texts/using data in Away mode which is within their official “home coverage area”. Anytime I go into an elevator in my building, or go to any underground parkade, I lose connection, and phone reconnects to any available Away carrier, but I’m not able to place any calls, send any texts or use data. And even when I get back into a stable signal area, phone still sticks in Away network for quite some time, and I either have to force it by searching networks, or keep it in manual network mode (in which case I don’t get away coverage at all).

    • stiner

      VoWifi is coming soon

    • Ian

      I’m a Rogers talk-n-text customer but am looking at the LTE offerings from FreeMo and others. I hope you’ve seen improvements in the meantime with Home connectivity while in an elevator or parkade. I’ve only lost a couple of calls in all my years on the Rogers network and would hate to lose that level of reliability.

  • Good option for Canadians. Too bad about the new name though. Too long, freedom is too generic to be very meaningful. Also, it is awkward to pronounce two-word names where the last letter of the first name is the same as the first letter of the second name. Wind was a nice name, short and distinctive, like Fido or Koodo. Why not build on the wind connotation with a name like Breeze or something like that? Freedom Mobile as a name suggests a total lack of imagination – it’s too literal, hence boring. Why use the word ‘mobile’ when its so obviously a mobile network?? Am I going to say that I’ve got a Freedom Mobile mobile phone??

    • Croc Ography

      Still tell everyone I have Wind. Freedom Mobile is too much.

    • Sunny Lee

      I think you’re overthinking it. Can you tell me objectively what makes “freedom” more generic than “wind”? They’re literally two English words with some meaning, and nothing else. Give it some time, “freedom” will feel natural.

      Also, for your last point, Wind was also “Wind Mobile”, and people just called it Wind for short. So… do the same and call it “Freedom” instead of “Freedom Mobile” if the “Mobile” part bothers you. You do realize that every other company is the same, right? Bell Mobility, Rogers Wireless, Koodo Mobile… Do some research.

    • You must be an employee to be so defensive about this name. “Freedom” is generic because it has a million meanings and is widely used while Koodo, Sony, Xerox, Kleenex etc are totally unique – much better for brand identity. The fact that all carriers including Wind have a second name really reinforces my point because it is easy to just use the first name and forget about the second when the first name, like Koodo, is so unique. If someone who had never heard of FM asked me what carrier I was with, I couldn’t just say “Freedom”. They might think I was just being sarcastic or that I meant that I had no cellphone contract at all, hence was feeling free. You might want to notice that 5 people have upvoted my comment so I am not alone in thinking it is a poor name. “Wind” may not be as unique a name as Koodo or some other brand names but at least it is nice and short.

    • Sunny Lee

      Oh no not at all, just a lover of debating. And when I see some strange justifications, I like to know where it came from.
      First, I’m not debating that “Freedom” is not a generic word; like I said, I’m saying it’s no more generic than “Wind”. I took from your comment that you thought the old name “Wind” was good, while the new name “Freedom” was bad, and that was the argument. Neither of them are very good names.

      And again, based on that stance, I’m not arguing “Freedom” vs. “Sony” or “Xerox” or any good names.

      That hypothetical situation though… I mean, I personally would think that person is strange or weird if they answered “Freedom” and Freedom wasn’t a brand, or inquire what they meant, instead of thinking they meant some other meaning. But hell, from that logic, if they said “Wind” I could say that people may interpret that as that they’re contractless, that they’re “free like the wind”, and I’d have as much justification in terms of the level of commonality of English communication patterns as the “freedom” answer.

      – “What’s your car’s make?”
      – “Freedom.”
      – “Oh… you don’t have a car?……”

      Yeah, this conversation does not actually happen in the real world.

    • Sorry still a dumb name. I would have to use the full name to be clear and that is just too long-winded. No pun intended. Again, two word names are awkward when the last letter of the first name is the same as the first letter of the second name. You may like it put it puts me off that they couldn’t have been more creative.

  • Nadefrenzy

    Anyone care to shed some light on to their service especially on their LTE network? Does it solve the woeful freedom mobile service issues that most people complain about (myself included)?

    • Gurjot Mand

      Yeah I have 2 phones one is on the rogers network and one is on the Freedom mobile network, i recently got the V20 on freedom mobile and I was in vancouver and had LTE speeds that were quick i had no problem loading up webpages (sorry I didn’t take speed tests). But just using it was fine, I would say that the coverage still is a bit spotty, and was switching a lot while I was moving around downtown and a call did drop twice, but even in calgary their 3G network is improved and i see faster load times for videos.

    • Data wise all issues seem to be resolved infact your speeds on average will be faster than the big 3 but LTE does not fix the problem of weak signals for voice calls and or texting as they are still handled by their weak 3G network… for now anyway. Voice over Wifi is coming very soon and eventually voice over LTE will come but that’s further off in the future but those two new additions will then fix the remaining issues with Freedom. I’m on their LTE here in Hamilton and it’s solid and super fast! Getting anywhere from 30-55Mps down and 30Mps up, faster than my home internet lol.

  • Phone_Addiction

    would be awesome if wind had wifi calling

    • Khalid .

      Lets hope its coming sooner than later.

    • It’s coming very soon!

  • Awesome. You made my day!

  • Benjamin Lehto

    They need to solve their building penetration problem and somehow acquire lower band spectrum.