Freedom Mobile is the 4th largest mobile network company in Canada. It is owned by Shaw Communications and has an active user base of 1,767,155 (as of Feb 2020).
While you have Rogers, Bell and Telus in the first three spots (in terms of subscriber base and dominance in the Canadian market), what really separates Freedom from the rest is the price point and the access to the latest phones.
If you are budget constraint and want to get the latest phone, you might probably want to consider switching over to Freedom Mobile. But the question remains, is the Freedom Network good enough for you to consider making the switch? Remember, you have tons of other options to chose from – right from Public Mobile (which runs on the Bell Network), Fido (Rogers), Chatr (Rogers), Koodo (Telus), Virgin Mobile (Telus). These companies are MVNO’s of the parent company – Rogers, Bell, Telus. These offer subsidized cellular plans as well when compared with Freedom.
So the question remains, how is Freedom winning the race with all the competition and the not so good network connectivity? Let’s find that out.
In this article, I will be reviewing everything about Freedom Mobile, who they are, coverage plans, pros and cons, and will be answering some of the basic to advanced questions you might have. By the end of this article, I really hope that you’ll be in a position to figure out if Freedom is right for you or not.
So let’s get started.
Freedom Mobile Overview
Shaw Communications owns Freedom Mobile (previously called WIND Mobile). The mobile carrier is the fourth largest in Canada (by the number of subscribers).
It was previously characterized by low data speeds and poor coverage, but since Shaw Communications came in, this has changed. With the additional support from Shaw, Freedom mobile has expanded its network to offer coverage in urban regions in Canada. It has also improved the network availability and data standards of its 4G LTE network.
Freedom offers its clients both prepaid and postpaid service plans. With a small sum of $9, you can purchase the cheapest prepaid plan. Freedom’s cheapest postpaid plan goes for $15 and this price can get as high as $115 monthly if you opt for the top-tier coverage plans.
Founded in 2008 as Wind Mobile by the telecommunications company Globalive, Freedom was one of several new mobile carriers launched in Canada in 2008 after a government initiative to encourage competition in the wireless sector alongside Mobilicity (later acquired by Rogers Communications) and Public Mobile (later acquired by Telus).
We’ll talk more about this, later on.
If you need a brand new mobile device, you can take advantage of Freedom’s MyTab offer. With the MyTab offer, you get subsidized device purchases and in exchange, you have to pay the after plan that lasts for two years. (contract period)
If this is not something you are looking for, then you can bring in your own device as well. (called the BYOD or bring your own device plan). With BYOD plans, you don’t get into contractual obligations and the monthly plans are a lot cheaper.
Before discussing Freedom Mobile’s coverage plans, let’s talk about the device options.
How good is Freedom Mobile?
Freedom Mobile is one of Canada’s telecommunications giants. However, this doesn’t automatically make them the right phone carrier for you.
Consider their network coverage for instance. Freedom and its partners claim to cover about 98% of Canada, but is that the case in actual?. In a bid to improve the situation on the ground, Shaw communications hired Nokia to aid in deploying a brand new 4G LTE network.
But once you step out of certain areas, such as
You are left at the mercy of the carrier’s partners rather than the carrier itself. This might limit your access to your phone’s services based on the monthly plan you are on.
Also, Freedom’s 3G and 4G network download speeds aren’t the best.
In 2018, Freedom’s networks download speeds came in dead last in Tutela’s “Mobile Experience Report.” The tests conducted on the network revealed download speeds of 4.70Mb per second and 10.79Mb per second for their 3G and 4G networks respectively.
Upload speeds reached just 6.56Mb per second for both networks. (3G and 4G)
As a tech enthusiast, I know that these recorded speeds aren’t exactly great for streaming in HD or gaming that requires excellent internet conditions. However this doesn’t translate into the data being unusable, it’s only slower in comparison to other network speeds.
Freedom Mobile hasn’t won any awards or been recognized for any major accomplishments. This doesn’t take away much from the company though. They owe this fact to their unique approach that sets them apart from other network carriers.
Freedom’s goal isn’t to offer the best speed or the greatest coverage. Instead, the company aims to provide for customers who want lower rates and don’t necessarily need excellent network offers.
In general, Freedom is for people who don’t want to pay too much on their cellular bills yet get a brand new iPhone with a good monthly plan. (without burning the pocket).
Freedom’s Device Options
We can all agree that cell phones have changed our lives. You can now stream movies and music right out of your pocket. Beyond this, they are also pretty useful devices for juggling a majority of our day to day tasks.
But cell phones can also be quite expensive. And if you aren’t exactly tech-savvy, having to choose one device from the broad selection can be quite hectic. But don’t fret, I’ve got you covered.
From models to budget, and finally ending with carrier plans, I will tell you how to pick a phone that matches you and your needs.
So let’s get started.
1. Keep an eye on your budget
While a more expensive phone might boast of more features, it is not necessarily the phone for you. Have a budget for the phone you want, and keep an eye on it when you are shopping. Don’t let anyone hype you into buying an expensive phone that you don’t need.
My advice? Unless you must buy a brand new phone, don’t buy one. Go for used devices or refurbished ones instead. This not only keeps you within budget but also allows you access to the same services and protection that a brand new phone would.
Also, if possible, make the phone payment upfront. This often affords you a discount in price. Leasing or using a payment plan might end up costing you way more than paying in full in one go.
In some situations, payment plans do not even guarantee you as the owner of the device. So to avoid complications, it’s best to pay upfront if you can afford to.
You should also keep in mind that the cost of a phone goes beyond the purchase price alone. You have to take usage costs into account too when drawing up your budget.
What are these usage costs? Things like payments for your lease and Data overages are part of what constitutes usage costs. You should also account for how much data you will need and the number of lines you will be getting.
These costs should be taken into consideration when choosing which device to buy. Ignoring them might end up putting you in debt in the long run. It’s like buying a house without taking furnishing into consideration.
Going online and asking around are effective ways to find out a phone’s usage costs. Friends that might have used the device are also great sources of information.
Summarily, draw up a budget, and stick to it.
2. What are the phone’s features?
Once you have your budget for the phone, it’s time to answer some questions about what you want in a phone.
First off, what operating system do you want?
If you are interested in variety, and customizability for your mobile device, then Android devices will give you this. Apple or iOS devices don’t have this, instead, they are quite easy to use and come with a wide selection in terms of apps. They also come with frequent updates to the operating system.
Next, consider the screen size you need. Bigger phones have bigger screens. While this might be attractive at first, consider the mobility and portability of such a device.
Smaller screens might be more portable, but they are not as convenient as their bigger counterparts when it comes to typing. They are also not great options for media streaming purposes.
Also while 4K displays are impressive, they are not so spectacular on mobile devices. This means, while a phone might brag about its resolution specs, its screen size is more important. This will afford you more versatility than just the resolution.
Choose a phone that’s both portable and affords you the visual experience that you need.
Now let’s talk about storage space. If the phone of your choice support SD cards, then this might not factor much into your decision. If it doesn’t then you need to factor this into your decision.
16GB storage devices are an excellent option if you don’t store much data. If you do, then you should pick devices with larger storage options.
Processors shouldn’t factor much into your decision. This is unless you will be playing games that require large processing power. Most modern devices come with processors that are sufficient for your everyday tasks.
3. Network Carrier
Buying a new phone sometimes requires that you get a new plan. Consider if you are going to change carriers or stick to the one you currently have. The compatibility of plans with your mobile device should also come into play.
It would make no sense for you to have chosen a mobile device only to discover that your carrier doesn’t offer coverage for the phone. This would render all your research and decision making useless.
Cell phones connect to a network using a range of service frequencies. If you already have a carrier and are not shopping at their store, then make sure that the device works with their plans. Carriers have select frequencies that they can operate on after all.
All Freedom customers, including those without a mobile Internet plan or add-on, can access the WindWorld web portal and the Facebook Zero social networking service at no cost. WindWorld consists of CBC News headlines, The Weather Network summaries for cities served by Freedom, premium mobile downloads, and monthly bill payments for Freedom accounts.
Find out more about this here.
Freedom Mobile is worthy of consideration after all it is a giant in the communications industry. Their plans are available on so many phones that you might end up finding compatible with your wants.
Your phone becomes semi-useless if not completely useless without coverage. Before you select a carrier, make sure that they offer coverage for areas that you frequently visit.
Carriers can provide you with a map of their coverage options. You can also use services like OpenSignal to see coverage maps generated from other people’s devices. The information is generated from devices of users who have a particular app installed on their devices.
If the carrier doesn’t cover your daily or regular routes, then even if they have great plans, they aren’t for you. So put in the time to find out your carrier’s coverage areas.
Also before deciding on a carrier, ask former users, about their services. This will save you a lot of headaches later on.
Freedom Mobile’s coverage is quite broad. If you are in an urban center, then you are most likely covered by the network carrier.
Freedom Mobile offers its services across a broad selection of devices. Many of these devices can fit into your budget while still giving you all the mobile capabilities you need. All these with Freedom Mobile’s coverage plans.
Let’s talk about these plans in detail.
Freedom Mobile Plans
Freedom offers cell phone plans in three categories:
BYOD ( Bring your own phone plans)
BIG Gig Unlimited Plans
Some of Freedom’s current plans and offers:
1. $14 Nationwide Text
This is a prepaid monthly plan that comes with
A $14 monthly fee
Unlimited texting every month
You make calls nationwide but you are charged $1.5 for every minute of call. You will also pay a $10 fee for your SIM card and a $10 activation fee.
2. $50 Big Gig + Talk Special (BIG Gig Plan – No Device)
This is a postpaid plan that comes with
A $50 monthly fee
Unlimited minutes each month
Unlimited Texting each month
20GB Data for all your internet needs.
You make calls to locations all over Canada. You will also pay a $10 fee for your SIM card and a $20 activation fee.
3. $19 Nationwide Talk + Text
This is a prepaid plan that comes with
A $19 monthly fee
Unlimited minutes each month
Unlimited Texting each month
- 1.5 GB Data
Calls can be made to places all over the country. This plan also comes with a $10 SIM card fee and a $10 activation fee.
There’s another similar plan for $39/month and you’ll get 3 GB of data with everything else unlimited.
4. $199 Nationwide Talk + Text
This is a prepaid plan that comes with
A $199 annual fee
Unlimited minutes all year long
Unlimited Texting all year long
- 5 GB Data per year
As with the previous plans, the calling area of this plan is nationwide. You will also have to pay a sum of $20 for the SIM card and the activation fee.
5. $35 Freedom
This is a prepaid plan that comes with
Comes with a $35 monthly fee
Unlimited minutes each month
Unlimited Texting each month
1GB mobile data
SIM card fees and activation fees add up to $20 for this plan.
Throttling speeds are typically 256 kbit/s for downloads and 128 kbit/s for uploads. In what Freedom defines as “extreme cases“, speeds will be slower than dial-up Internet access at 32 kbit/s for downloads and 16 kbit/s for uploads. When throttling does occur, Freedom will inform customers of the reduced speeds.
You will have to pay tax for along with the fees. This might cause a difference in the price tag attached to the plan and the total amount you might end up paying for the plan.
Freedom Network’s Device Offers
One of the reasons, people choose Freedom over other networks is because of the amazing phone deals and low prices. In this section, let’s look at some of the best cell phone offers and current deals on the Freedom Network.
1. iPhone 11 (64 GB)
$0 Upfront and $60 per month.
2. iPhone SE (64 GB)
24 Month Tab – $5
Monthly Plan Fees – $40
14 GB Data
Features of Freedom Mobile’s services
Freedom Mobile gives you a couple of opportunities to save up when buying a new shiny device or a coverage plan.
These savings features (or bundles) include:
Better Together Savings: Once you bundle a phone line and the internet package, you qualify for a discount each month – as long as you operate both services on different accounts.
Bundled International Calling: You can enjoy discounts on international call rates if you sign up for one of Freedom’s higher-tier plans. This comes without taking on any add-on or additional fee.
Freedom MyTab: You can get a discount (worth about $650) on any new device that you want to buy at Freedom. This comes as a trade-off for a two-year agreement with the company.
Now that we know what Freedom Mobile’s coverage plans and features are, let’s talk more about if they are right for you.
Requirements for Joining Freedom Mobile’s client list
First, let me get this out of the way. You will not be subjected to a credit check if you are opting for a prepaid service. If you are choosing a monthly service plan, then there is a chance you might have to undergo a credit check.
This check can appear on reports concerning your creditworthiness.
To use Freedom Mobile’s services, you will be required to provide one of either your Canadian driver’s license, a Canadian credit card, or a Canadian SIN letter or card.
Also, you will be required to provide one of the following
Permanent Resident Card
Native Indian Status Card
Possession and Acquisition License (PAL)
Department of Defense ID
Valid, Government-Issued Provincial/Territorial Photo ID
If your credit profile isn’t in the best of shape, then you should contact the company first, before trying to purchase a plan from them. This is because a credit check might affect your current credit score.
You can contact Freedom Mobile here for more information on their joining requirements.
Other questions that need answering
Beyond their requirements, these are some questions that should be answered. Knowing the answers to these questions will surely guide your decision to choose whether or not to join Freedom Mobile’s clientele.
Does Freedom Mobile charge you for roaming?
International roaming fees still exist, but for roaming within Canada, the billing method has changed. You are no longer required to pay-per-minute when you leave your local network. This is because the network is now completely nationwide.
When a customer is outside of Freedom Mobile’s coverage, services are provided by its roaming partners. Freedom roaming partners include Rogers Wireless, Bell Mobility and Telus Mobility within Canada; and AT&T Mobility for the United States.
But there’s a separate data allocation for nationwide purposes.
If you are travelling to the US or Mexico, you can choose from one of Freedom Mobile’s many roaming add-ons. This will help you keep costs down. These add-ons can cost as low as $10 and as high as $96 depending on the ones you choose.
There are three options for you to choose from. These are
Big Gig Roam Extra
World Traveler Discount Plan
1GB Freedom Nationwide + U.S.
For more information on Freedom’s roaming rates, check here.
Are there add-ons?
Yes! There are add-ons or additional features that you can add to your chosen plan. Some of Freedom’s most popular add-ons are
Unlimited U.S. wide calling.
1GB of Full Speed Data
Need additional information on these add-ons? Check here.
Can my Mobile be tethered?
You can tether your mobile for as long as you have a data plan. Instructions concerning this can be found on your dashboard once you open an account with Freedom Mobile.
While tethered to other devices, remember that your phone is designed to use much less data than most other devices (laptops, and consoles for instance.) So keep an eye on your data consumption while connected.
You should also know that Freedom Mobile doesn’t roll over your data plans. So keep this mind too.
Can I port numbers?
You can do this by visiting one of their stores. Keep in mind that your current account must be in good standing and active before you will be allowed to port.
Also, Freedom Mobile’s services must be available in the area you are porting from.
You can use their Find a Store page to find nearby stores.
What about early termination fees?
This depends mainly on your current plan and the circumstances surrounding your termination.
According to their terms of service, (which you can find here), you are agreeing to pay all charges that you incur up to the date they stop providing you with their services. This will include all services previously provided and any device or equipment you purchased from them.
Find answers to other questions here
Freedom Mobile’s Pros and Cons
Now, let’s discuss the pros and cons of joining up with Freedom Mobile’s current customer database.
Pros of the Freedom Mobile Network
Their services are quite affordable among carriers.
You don’t necessarily have to get a contractual plan to use their services. This is great if you are just testing out the carrier’s services.
You can earn discounts if you bring in your own devices.
All their plans allow for calls nationwide.
They provide unlimited texting on all their coverage plans.
You can enjoy generous amounts of mobile data on their affordable plans.
Cons Of Freedom Mobile Network
Poor coverage for locales outside of major urban regions.
Customer service is mostly self-service or has to be in-person at one of their store outlets.
Freedom Mobile’s network speeds are also not the best. The company ranked last in rankings conducted by Ookla, PC Magazine, and Tutela in terms of network speed. These rankings were conducted in different years (2016, 2016, and 2018).
The company also has a poor showing when it comes to customer service rankings. In multiple tests conducted by J.D Power in 2016 and 2017, Freedom Mobile finished in the bottom three. The 2017 Canadian Wireless Network Quality Study conducted in the Ontario region in 2017, ranked Freedom last.
Freedom Mobile is also rated F by the BBB (Better Business Bureau). This doesn’t speak well of the company’s customer service abilities.
If you aren’t keen on network speed or don’t necessarily need it then Freedom Mobile might be the carrier for you. Their plans are affordable and you can bank on their unlimited texting on any plan that you might choose. Also, if you are comfortable with self-service then it might not be such a bad idea after all.
But, if you are the kind that requires hands-on customer service, then maybe check out another carrier. Freedom Mobile doesn’t do quite well in that regard. And if you want fast and excellent download and upload speeds for your internet activities, another carrier might be more suited for your purposes.
Thanks for reading. Let me know your thoughts and comments below.
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Sagar Sridhar is a personal finance blogger from Canada. His genuine passion for personal finance coupled with his unique style of writing is what stands out. Professionally, he is a computer engineer, agile certified and has a master’s degree in Project Management. His writing has been featured or quoted in the leading Canadian publications such as Credit Canada and many other personal finance publications. While he is juggling between his day job and blogging, he is the main author on this blog and has miles to go before making the final pit stop.