Freedom Mobile is adding 5G capability for some customers as its new parent company implements network upgrades in accordance with orders from Ottawa.
The Quebecor Inc.-owned telecom provider said Thursday it will begin offering 5G service to customers with plans that cost $45 per month or more in the Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton areas along with select cities across Ontario, B.C. and Alberta.
It added it is planning 5G rollouts in other markets that are still to come.
Freedom Mobile announced in May it would offer a $50 monthly plan, its first with national coverage, that includes unlimited calls and texts as well as 40 gigabytes of data usable throughout Canada and the U.S.
On Thursday, it unveiled two more Canada-wide plans eligible for 5G service including 30 gigabytes of monthly data for $45, plus unlimited talk and text, along with 50 gigabytes of data usable in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico for $65 per month.
“Today, Freedom is exceeding its promise to customers with some of the most competitive wireless plans ever seen in Canada, backed by a top-notch 5G network,” said Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau in a press release.
“With this unprecedented offering and the roll-out of major enhancements to its wireless network, Freedom upgrades the telecom industry and brings Canadians high-quality mobile plans to use in more places, at an affordable price.”
The moves come after Quebecor’s Videotron bought Freedom Mobile for $2.85 billion in April. The acquisition was prompted by Rogers Communications Inc.’s takeover of Shaw Communications Inc., which agreed last year to sell Freedom Mobile in an attempt to ease competition concerns as a requirement for the merger.
As part of conditions laid out by Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne in March, Videotron must offer plans that are at least 20 per cent lower than those of its competitors and spend $150 million to upgrade Freedom Mobile’s network.
The company committed to expand its 5G wireless network in Freedom Mobile’s pre-existing operating territory within two years. It must also increase data allotments of existing Freedom Mobile customers by 10 per cent in the short-term while it invests to bring down prices overall.
Last week, the company announced in an email to its employees it would expand coverage of the Freedom Mobile network into Quebec. It expects the update will take a few weeks to reach all Freedom customers.
Freedom Mobile said other technical enhancements have been made across its network, including the introduction of seamless roaming, and that it will also upgrade the monthly plans of existing customers to include nationwide data that can be used anywhere in Canada, free of charge.
Earlier this week, the federal telecommunications regulator ruled in a final offer arbitration proceeding between Quebecor and Rogers, which was requested by the companies just days after Videotron acquired Freedom Mobile from Shaw.
While Quebecor and Rogers had agreed on certain rates that Videotron would pay to Rogers when offering services using its wireless network, they had been unable to reach a deal on data rates.
The CRTC sided with Quebecor’s ask and directed both sides to enter into an access agreement so that Videotron “can expand competitive mobile wireless services to Canadians as quickly as possible.”
The CRTC said its ruling would help deliver more affordable cellphone plans and bolster competition in the sector.
Rogers has said it could appeal the decision.