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Freedom Mobile

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Freedom Mobile Inc.
FormerlyWind Mobile (2009–2016)
Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryMobile network operator
FoundedDecember 16, 2009 (2009-12-16)
FounderAnthony Lacavera
HeadquartersToronto, Ontario, Canada
Area served
Key people
  • Mobile Phone Plans
  • Home Internet
  • TV
Number of employees
12,000 (2023, including Québecor)
ParentShaw Communications (2016-2023)
Vidéotron (2023–present)

Freedom Mobile, a Canadian wireless telecommunications provider owned by Québecor, holds a 6% market share of the Canadian wireless market, primarily concentrated in urban areas of Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, and Manitoba. As the fourth-largest wireless carrier in Canada, Freedom Mobile serves 2,290,497 subscribers as of November 30, 2022. In addition to mobile phone plans, Freedom also offers home internet and TV services.[1]

Founded in 2008 as Wind Mobile by the telecommunications company Globalive, Freedom Mobile emerged as one of several new mobile carriers launched in Canada that year under a government initiative to foster competition in the wireless sector. Alongside Mobilicity (later acquired by Rogers Communications) and Public Mobile (later acquired by Telus Communications), Freedom Mobile initially introduced mobile data and voice services in Toronto, Ontario, on December 16, 2009, and Calgary, Alberta, on December 18, 2009.[2][3]

In 2016, Shaw Communications acquired Wind Mobile, and subsequently rebranded it as Freedom Mobile.[4][5] On June 17, 2022, Shaw Communications, Rogers Communications, and Québecor jointly announced an agreement for the sale of Freedom Mobile to Vidéotron, a subsidiary of Québecor, pending approval from the Competition Bureau and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. The sale received approval on March 31, 2023, and was finalized on April 3, 2023.[6]


2008: Wind Mobile Founded[edit]

Globalive, a Canadian company, was primarily financed by the Egyptian corporation Orascom Telecom Holding and managed by Wind Telecom S.p.A., which owns several other "Wind" brand telecommunications companies. In 2008, Globalive bid CAD $442 million to secure the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) wireless spectrum (3G at 1,700 MHz) required for launching its network.[7] Ken Campbell, a former executive at Vodafone and Orascom, was appointed the first CEO of Globalive Wireless in 2008.[8] However, the company's launch was delayed due to a public ownership review by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The regulatory body found that Globalive did not meet Canadian ownership requirements, primarily due to its reliance on Orascom for its debt, which amounted to CAD $508 million.[9][10]

2009: Network Launch[edit]

On December 11, the Governor-in-Council, acting on the advice of then Minister of Industry Tony Clement, issued a final decision deeming that Globalive did meet the ownership requirements, allowing it to enter the Canadian market immediately.[11]

On December 14, Wind Mobile announced a partnership with Blockbuster LLC in Canada, establishing Wind kiosks and offering prepaid products at 16 Blockbuster locations, including 13 in Ontario and 3 in Calgary.[12] On December 16, Wind Mobile officially launched its service in Toronto, with a launch event held at its Queens Quay location in downtown Toronto.[13] Two days later, on December 18, Wind Mobile expanded its service to Calgary, Alberta.[3]

2010: 100K Subscribers[edit]

Chris Robbins, Chief Customer Officer, resigned from Wind Mobile on March 4, 2010. Both Robbins and Wind Mobile stated that the departure was due to strategic changes and Robbins' desire to pursue other business opportunities. However, analysts viewed the change negatively, speculating that an executive departure so early indicated disappointing market penetration.[14]

On February 25, Wind Mobile launched in Edmonton, Alberta, followed by an official launch in Ottawa, Ontario, on March 26, and later expanded to Vancouver, British Columbia, on June 3.[15][16][17]

In early July 2010, Wind Mobile reached 100,000 subscribers.[18]

2011: Orascom Sells to VimpelCom[edit]

Wind Mobile logo, 2011-2013

On February 4, 2011, the Federal Court ruled in favour of competitors Public Mobile and Telus, declaring the Governor in Council's decision regarding Wind's Canadian ownership requirements improper.[19] On May 18, the Federal Court of Appeal heard arguments from Wind and the federal government to overturn the Federal Court decision. The appeal was successful, and the Federal Court of Appeal restored the Governor in Council's order, affirming Wind met Canadian ownership requirements.[20]

On March 17, shareholders of the Russian mobile operator VimpelCom supported a $6 billion deal to acquire Wind Telecom, which included Orascom Telecom, a significant shareholder in Wind Mobile. This transaction would create the world's fifth-largest mobile operator with over 173 million subscribers.[21] In June 2011, Ken Campbell, Wind Mobile's founding CEO, resigned.[22]

On November 7, Wind Mobile launched a new advertising campaign with the slogan "That's the power of Wind."[citation needed]

2012: Revised Plan Offerings[edit]

On March 1, 2012, Wind Mobile refreshed its plan lineup. The Clever and Brilliant plans were eliminated, while Pay Your Way permanently included unlimited incoming calls on Wind's network. The mid-range Smart and high-end Genius plans lost their names and had some features altered. Only SMS messages sent to Canadian numbers were included, and all MMS or non-Canadian SMS became pay-per-use. The Wind 25 plan included 100 MB of mobile Internet access, while the Wind 40 plan featured 5 GB of full-speed mobile Internet instead of voicemail.[23]

2013: Leadership Change[edit]

Wind Mobile logo, 2013-2016

On January 18, 2013, Anthony Lacavera announced his transition from CEO to chairman of the company. At the same time, Wind Mobile disclosed reaching approximately 600,000 subscribers.[24] VimpelCom Ltd. initiated efforts to find potential buyers for Wind in March 2013.[25]

On April 10, 2013, Wind Mobile announced that it would withdraw from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association. Mobilicity and Public Mobile also withdrew, alleging bias favouring competitors Bell, Rogers, and Telus.[26]

On June 19, 2013, Orascom Telecom, a VimpelCom subsidiary, retract its application to assume full control of Wind Mobile, reversing an earlier decision.[27] The Globe and Mail reported on June 26, 2013, that Verizon Wireless had made a $700 million offer to acquire Wind Mobile, although Verizon later announced no interest in the Canadian wireless market.[28][29]

On September 4, 2013, reports surfaced that Wind Mobile was negotiating to acquire customers from struggling competitor Mobilicity as it prepared to cease consumer operations.[30] Mobilicity denied these reports shortly after.[31]

2014: Financial Restructuring[edit]

A Wind Mobile store at The Promenade Shopping Centre

On January 13, 2014, VimpelCom, Wind Mobile's majority shareholder through its subsidiaries Wind Telecom and Global Telecom Holding, withdrew its financial support for Wind Mobile's bid in the Industry Canada 700 MHz spectrum auction due to a dispute with the Canadian federal government.[32]

By September 2014, VimpelCom sold its majority stake in Wind Mobile to AAL Acquisitions Corporation (a holding company controlled by Wind Mobile founder Anthony Lacavera) for $135 million, with the consortium also assuming $150 million of Wind's debt.[33] Industry Canada approved the transaction in November 2014, transferring Wind's spectrum licenses to AAL Acquisitions Corp.[34] These assets were subsequently transferred to Mid-Bowline Holdings Corporation, controlled by a consortium of investors including Globalive and several Canadian and American private equity firms.[35] Wind Mobile retained licensing rights to the Wind name and logo until 2016.[36]

In December 2014, newly appointed CEO Pietro Cordova outlined Wind Mobile's plans for expanding LTE services and participating in the Canadian government's 2015 spectrum auctions, opportunities previously restricted under VimpelCom's ownership.[35] Cordova also proposed acquiring underutilized spectrum from other companies such as Vidéotron Mobile and unused AWS spectrum purchased by Shaw Communications, as well as developing partnerships with providers like Mobilicity and Vidéotron to expand Wind's coverage.[37] Cordova suggested the possibility of Wind Mobile pursuing an initial public offering in 2016 or 2017, pending approval from Mid-Bowline Holdings investors.[38]

2015: Attempted Merger With Mobilicity[edit]

Wind Mobile booth with smartphones on display

In February 2015, Wind Mobile entered negotiations to acquire Mobilicity ahead of the AWS-3 spectrum auction registration deadline, as reported by the Financial Post. Talks stalled due to Mobilicity's creditors seeking a high price for its assets, and discussions ceased by January 30, 2015, when both companies registered independently for the auction.[39]

Industry Canada announced the results of the AWS-3 auction on March 6, 2015. Mobilicity withdrew due to funding constraints, enabling Wind Mobile to secure the entire spectrum block allocated for new entrants in Alberta, British Columbia, and southern Ontario with a successful bid of $56.4 million, increasing its spectrum holdings in these regions by 180 percent.[40][41]

On March 23, 2015, Alek Krstajic, former CEO of Public Mobile, was appointed CEO of Wind Mobile Corporation, with Robert MacLellan, a former executive of Toronto-Dominion Bank, named chairman of the board.[42] Wind's shareholders at the time included Toronto hedge fund West Face Capital (35%), California-based fund Tennenbaum Capital Partners (31%), and Globalive Capital Voting Group (25%), which included Tony Lacavera's investment fund together with investment vehicles owned by Alex Shnaider, Terrence Hui, and Michael Serruya, and an investment firm controlled by Lawrence Guffey (8%).[citation needed]

Wind Mobile made headlines on June 17, 2015, by becoming the first cellular provider to offer service in TTC subway stations through an agreement with BAI Canada, securing exclusive rights to the underground mobile system for one year.[43]

In June 2015, under the terms of Rogers Communications' acquisition of Mobilicity, Wind Mobile acquired AWS spectrum licenses from Rogers Communications and Mobilicity for provinces including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and northern and eastern Ontario for a nominal fee of $1 per license.[44] Wind also gained an option to purchase half of Mobilicity's infrastructure for $25 million and executed a spectrum swap with Rogers so that both companies' AWS spectrum blocks were contiguous in southern Ontario.[45][44]

Subsequently, Wind sold newly acquired AWS-1 spectrum licenses to regional telecoms in Manitoba and Saskatchewan on July 31, 2015, totalling $45 million to MTS and undisclosed amounts to SaskTel, aiming to enhance regional competition and fund LTE network upgrades in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario.[46][47]

2016: Shaw Communications Acquires Wind Mobile[edit]

Freedom Mobile logo, 2016-present

On December 16, 2015, Shaw Communications announced its plan to acquire Wind Mobile's parent company, Mid-Bowline Group, in a deal valued at approximately $1.6 billion.[48] The acquisition required approval from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and the Competition Bureau. As part of the announcement, Shaw outlined several terms of the acquisition: Alek Krstajic, then-CEO, would continue to lead Wind as a division within Shaw, headquartered in Toronto as a distinct unit. Wind would remain as a budget-priced mobile carrier in the short term, and the ongoing upgrade from HSPA 3G to LTE would proceed as planned.[49] Shaw Communications' CEO, Brad Shaw, stated that the acquisition would enable Shaw to compete on the same level as rival Telus in western Canada and gain a foothold in the Ontario telecom market.[48]

The Competition Bureau approved the purchase on February 4, 2016, and Shaw completed the acquisition on March 1, 2016.[50] Shaw funded part of the deal by selling Shaw Media to Corus Entertainment, also controlled by the Shaw family.[51]

On November 21, 2016, Shaw announced that Wind Mobile would be renamed Freedom Mobile. The decision to rebrand was influenced by rising royalty fees for licensing the Wind name from VimpelCom. CEO Alek Krstajic explained that the company wanted to shed the "baggage" associated with the Wind name and use the rebranding to signify new ownership.[52] On the same day, Freedom Mobile announced the launch of LTE service on the AWS-3 band in Toronto and Vancouver.[52]

2017: Leadership Change[edit]

Freedom Mobile at Hillcrest Mall

In April 2017, Alek Krstajic stepped down as CEO and was replaced by Paul McAleese, whose title was later changed to Chief Operating Officer.[53]

On November 7, 2017, Freedom Mobile announced that LTE access would be enabled on all grandfathered 3G plans at no additional cost. This upgrade coincided with a national upgrade of Freedom's cell sites to utilize newly acquired 2500 MHz (Band 7) spectrum and the reallocation of some AWS-1 (Band 4) spectrum for LTE.[54]

2020: Shaw Mobile[edit]

In July 2020, Shaw began operating Shaw Mobile as an MVNO on the Freedom Mobile network in Alberta and British Columbia. The service was offered as part of a quadruple play with Shaw's television, internet, and home phone services.[55][56]

2021: Rogers to Buy Shaw[edit]

Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications announced a $26 billion transaction on March 15, 2021, where Rogers would acquire all outstanding Class A and Class B shares of Shaw. The transaction, reflecting a 70% premium on Shaw’s Class B share price, aims to boost 5G infrastructure in western Canada, create 3,000 jobs, and connect underserved communities. Rogers committed to not increasing wireless prices for Freedom Mobile customers for at least three years post-transaction. The transaction was expected to close in the first half of 2022, pending regulatory and court approvals.[57]

On April 21, 2021, Freedom Mobile announced an indefinite pause on its 5G network launch through a memo to its employees. The memo explained that the decision was necessary due to the highly competitive market and uncertainties regarding spectrum and infrastructure needed for future phases of the 5G rollout. Amid the pending Rogers-Shaw merger, Freedom Mobile's parent company opted out of the federal government's 5G spectrum auction.[58]

2022: Québecor to Buy Freedom Mobile[edit]

On March 3, 2022, the federal government announced it would block the transfer of wireless licenses from Shaw Communications Inc. to Rogers Communications Inc. Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne expressed concerns that the $26-billion acquisition of Shaw by Rogers would reduce competition and increase cellphone bills for Canadians. The acquisition was being reviewed by three federal regulators: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, and the Competition Bureau.[59]

On March 24, 2022, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved Rogers Communications Inc.'s acquisition of Shaw Communications Inc.'s broadcasting services. This approval came with several conditions, including a $27.2 million contribution to various funds and the creation of an Indigenous news team. The CRTC concluded that the transaction would not reduce the diversity of voices in Canada or unduly affect the competitive landscape, deeming it in the public interest.[60]

On May 9, 2022, the Competition Bureau of Canada filed an application to block Rogers Communications Inc.'s acquisition of Shaw Communications Inc., arguing it would lead to higher prices, poorer service quality, and reduced choice for consumers, particularly in the wireless sector. The bureau's investigation found that the $26-billion deal would eliminate Shaw's Freedom Mobile, which it considered a strong independent competitor that has driven down prices and innovated in wireless services.[61]

On May 12, 2022, Québecor Inc.'s CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau signalled that he would like to purchase Freedom Mobile if regulators force Rogers to sell it as a requirement of the merger's approval. On May 19, 2022, Globalive Capital founder Anthony Lacavera reinforced his bid for Freedom Mobile by signing a network and spectrum sharing agreement with Telus Corp., conditional on Globalive's successful acquisition of Freedom. Lacavera founded Wind Mobile in 2008.[6][62]

On June 17, 2022, Rogers Communications Inc. announced it would sell Freedom Mobile Inc. to Québecor Inc. for $2.85 billion, aiming to address regulatory opposition to its acquisition of Shaw Communications Inc. This deal included Freedom's wireless and internet customers, infrastructure, spectrum, and retail sites.[63]

On August 12, 2022, Rogers Communications Inc., Shaw Communications Inc., and Québecor Inc. finalized an agreement for Québecor's subsidiary, Vidéotron Ltd., to acquire Freedom Mobile Inc. "The parties strongly believe the Freedom Transaction provides the best opportunity to create a strong fourth national wireless services provider and addresses the concerns raised by the Commissioner of Competition and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry regarding the Rogers-Shaw Transaction. With this Agreement, the new combined business of Vidéotron and Freedom will be well-positioned to launch a strong, competitive national 5G offering, using Vidéotron’s 3500 MHz holdings."[64][6]

On December 29, 2022, the Competition Tribunal rejected the Competition Bureau's attempt to block the merger, ruling that the consolidation of the two companies, along with the sale of Freedom Mobile to Vidéotron, would not significantly raise prices or reduce competition.[65] On December 30, 2022, the Competition Bureau announced it would appeal the Competition Tribunal's decision.[6]

2023: Québecor Acquires Freedom Mobile[edit]

On January 24, 2023, the Federal Court of Appeal rejected the Commissioner of Competition’s bid to overturn the tribunal's approval of the Rogers-Shaw merger. The court ruled that the merger, which includes the sale of Freedom Mobile to Vidéotron, would not significantly impact prices or competition in Canada's telecommunications sector. Despite the Competition Bureau's objections, the court found no basis to overturn the tribunal's decision, paving the way for the merger pending final approval from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.[66]

On March 31, 2023, François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, gave the final regulatory approval to the deal by allowing the transfer of Freedom's wireless licences to Vidéotron. As part of these agreements and conditions, Vidéotron:[6]

  • Will, over a period of ten years, offer plans that are at least 20% cheaper than those offered by the incumbents in the British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario markets as of February 10, 2023;
  • Cannot transfer the Freedom Mobile licences for a period of ten years;
  • Invest more than $150 million to upgrade Freedom Mobile's infrastructure, which will, among other things, enable 90% of its current and future customers to access the 5G network using a compatible device within two years;
  • Will expand mobile service into Manitoba via the use of a signed Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) agreement or other means and offer plans comparable to what it offers in Quebec;
  • Will maintain prices for Freedom Mobile's existing customers for five years; and,
  • Will increase data allotments of existing Freedom Mobile customers by 10% as a near-term bonus while it invests to bring down prices overall.[67]

Failure to comply with these conditions may result in substantial financial penalties, with Vidéotron facing potential damages of up to $200 million. Vidéotron and Rogers have also entered into commercial network-access agreements, which includes a MVNO and Domestic Roaming Agreement, on terms that will help Vidéotron compete more effectively as it expands in other regions of Canada.[67]

On April 3, 2023, Québecor Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc. announced today that the acquisition of Freedom Mobile Inc. by Vidéotron Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Québecor, has been completed.[6]

On July 24, 2023, Freedom Mobile launched 5G and nationwide unlimited plans, expanding its 5G network to cover over 12 million Canadians in the Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton metropolitan areas along with select cities across Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.[68]

On November 21, 2023, Freedom Mobile introduced the Roam Beyond plan, initially offering roaming in 73 countries.[69] By June 20, 2024, the plans expanded their coverage to include roaming in 92 countries.[70] 30-day Roam Beyond Passes are also available.[69]

2024: Freedom Home Internet and Freedom TV[edit]

On May 7, 2024, Freedom Mobile initiated the rollout of home internet and TV services branded under Freedom Mobile, powered by VMedia.[71] Pierre Karl Péladeau, CEO of Québecor, in a statement said, “Making Freedom a 3-product player is a key milestone in our plan to give Canadians better telecommunications options and to foster healthy competition in more markets.”[72]

On May 23, 2024, Freedom Mobile expanded its services into Manitoba as an MVNO, introducing wireless, home internet, and TV options along with new retail locations in Winnipeg. Pierre Karl Peladeau, Québecor's CEO, emphasized the milestone as a significant move towards providing innovative and affordable telecom solutions to Manitobans, promoting competition in the region.[73] Alongside this launch, Freedom introduced the Subscription Area, expanding customer eligibility beyond the Freedom Network boundaries.[74] Additionally, Freedom is required to build out its own network in region where it operates as an MVNO within seven years.[75]

In 2024, Freedom Mobile began deploying some 3500 MHz 5G sites in the Greater Toronto Area and Vancouver.[76][77]

Radio Frequencies[edit]

Frequencies used on the Freedom Mobile Network
Frequency range Band number Protocol Class Status Note(s)
1700/2100 MHz AWS 4 UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSPA+ 3G Active The only band used for providing UMTS voice and data services.
600 MHz DD 71 LTE/LTE-A 4G Active Acquired in a 2019 auction and deployed in Kingston and Ottawa.[78]
700 MHz Upper C Block 13 Active[79] This is an additional LTE band with better signal propagation to enhance indoor service and fill gaps in network coverage. It is also used to provide LTE Advanced coverage in select markets. This band was acquired from Québecor and is restricted to devices sold by Freedom or BYOD devices from Samsung, Google, LG, Motorola, or Apple, subject to specific models listed in the Compatibility Matrix.
1700/2100 MHz AWS 4/66 Active This is the primary band for LTE service across all regions except Eastern Ontario. It is also utilized for LTE Advanced coverage in select markets.
2600 MHz IMT-E 7 Active[80] This is the primary band for LTE, compatible with legacy devices and used for LTE Advanced coverage in select markets. Carrier Aggregation is used in conjunction with Band 66, excluding Eastern Ontario. It was acquired from Québecor.
38 Pending Development This additional band for LTE is used in select regions of Western Canada and was acquired in a residual spectrum auction.[81]
600 MHz DD n71 NR 5G Active/Building out Currently available in Greater Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, the GTA, Hamilton, London, and Windsor.[82]
1700/2100 MHz AWS n66 Access provided by Vidéotron in Quebec.[83]
3500 MHz C-Band n78 Some sites deployed in Toronto and Vancouver.[76][77]

Subscriber Numbers[edit]

Number of Wind Mobile/Freedom Mobile subscribers[84][85][86]
  • "2021 Subscriber Stats" (PDF). CWTA. Retrieved 2022-03-26.
Date Additions Total Increase
2009-12-31 5,000 5,000 N/A
2010-03-31 39,441 44,441 788.8%
2010-06-30 49,441 93,882 111.3%
2010-09-30 45,799 139,681 48.8%
2010-12-31 92,960 232,641 66.6%
2011-03-31 39,018 271,659 16.8%
2011-06-30 45,341 317,000 16.7%
2011-09-30 41,000 358,000 12.9%
2011-12-31 45,000 403,000 13%
2012-03-31 12,364 415,364 3.1%
2012-06-30 41,552 456,886 10%
2012-09-30 53,598 510,484 11.7%
2012-12-31 79,954 590,438 15.7%
2013-03-31 11,281 601,719 1.9%
2013-06-30 18,732 620,451 3.1%
2013-09-30 16,376 636,827 2.6%
2013-12-31 39,382 676,209 6.3%
2014-03-31 25,791 702,000 3.8%
2014-06-30 39,000 741,000 5.6%
2014-09-31 59,000 800,000 8%
2015-12-16 140,000 940,000 17.5%
2016-05-31 63,469 1,003,469 6.7%
2016-11-02 39,819 1,043,288 3.9%
2017-04-12 42,897 1,086,185 4.1%
2017-08-31 60,988 1,147,173 5.6%
2018-02-28 124,012 1,271,185 10.8%
2018-05-31 46,659 1,317,844 3.6%
2018-08-31 85,014 1,402,858 6.5%
2018-11-30 65,615 1,468,473 4.7%
2019-01-14 86,067 1,468,473 5.9%
2019-02-28 65,000 1,516,256 3.3%
2019-05-31 62,099 1,578,355 4.1%
2021-12-31 249,410 2,171,953 37.6%
2022-11-30 118,544 2,290,497 5.5%
2023-08-12 1,309,503 3,600,000 57.2%

See also[edit]


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