Freedom Mobile will offer a $50 monthly plan that includes unlimited calls and texts as well as 40 gigabytes of data usable throughout Canada and the U.S. following its acquisition by Quebecor Inc.’s Videotron.
The $2.85 billion 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 its competitors’ and spend $150 million over the next two years to upgrade Freedom Mobile’s network.
The company said that work is underway, with teams dedicated to upgrading the wireless network to support the upcoming implementation of 5G technology and seamless roaming.
But the newly announced plan, which marks Freedom’s first offering with national coverage, “goes well beyond any of the expectations that were set by Ottawa,” telecommunications consultant Mark Goldberg said.
“This isn’t just 20 per cent. It’s a unique package,” he said.
“This is a statement by Freedom that they’re going to be establishing themselves in the marketplace.”
While he said it’s not the first time a Canadian carrier has offered transborder roaming, “it’s certainly the lowest price I’ve seen for it and it’s showing some aggressive price competition.”
Earlier this year, Champagne said his approval of the Rogers-Shaw merger would establish Freedom Mobile as a strong fourth national carrier, which would also encourage competition and lower prices in the marketplace.
Goldberg expects Freedom, along with Rogers, Bell Canada and Telus Corp. to meet that expectation by offering further incentives to customers.
Freedom said it has also introduced enhancements to its services that go beyond Quebecor’s commitments at the time of the transaction, such as a price freeze guarantee, which applies to all current and future customers for as long as they keep their plans.
Earlier this month, Rogers reduced the price per gigabyte of data by 50 per cent on its most popular plan, allowing customers to access 50 gigabytes of data for $85 per month. It also announced new bundled options for Rogers and Shaw customers in B.C., Alberta and other provinces.
Sammy Hudes, The Canadian Press