A women walks past the new rebranding sign of Freedom Mobile in Toronto on Thursday, November 24, 2016. Freedom Mobile says about 15,000 customers were affected by a security breach in a new system before the problem was fixed on April 23. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Freedom Mobile answers rivals’ recent moves with limited-time offer of free phone

Freedom says its current Absolute Zero promotion is a game changer

Freedom Mobile is using a limited-time offer of free phones to fight back against a recent change in pricing strategy by Canada’s three national wireless carriers.

Customers who buy one of a selection of two-year service contracts from Freedom will also get to choose a no-cost Apple, Samsung or LG smartphone from a list of about half-a-dozen models.

The Calgary-based regional carrier says its Absolute Zero promotion sets it apart from device financing plans recently introduced by its national rivals because customers pay only for the service and at no point for the phone.

Recently introduced financing plans from two of Canada’s Big Three wireless companies allow customers to buy and pay for any available phone over 24 or 36 months, but with no upfront fee or interest on the device portion of the purchase.

The new financing plans that separate the cost of hardware from the cost of service are a major shift from a long-standing practice of including the carrier’s cost of subsidizing devices within one- or two-year service contracts.

The arrival of a 36-month device financing plan from Rogers also caused a stir after allegations that it might violate a regulatory prohibition against charging a fee for ending a service contract after two years.

READ MORE: Rogers adopts unlimited wireless data plans, expects new purchase options

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has begun collecting information from all the carriers through a letter asking more than a dozen questions that the regulator wants answered by July 30.

The new device financing plans come as Rogers, Telus and Bell begin to offer their first service plans that charge a fixed monthly fee (and no overage charges) for an unlimited amount of data — a pricing strategy already used by Freedom.

The national carriers have said their adoption of unlimited wireless data is in preparation for the arrival of faster fifth-generation services that will carry vastly more data.

However, Freedom — a much smaller and newer carrier with a base in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia — has claimed its rivals were following its lead to use slower data transfer rates, rather than overage fees, when usage is too high.

Freedom says its current Absolute Zero promotion is also game changer, even though the promise of a phone for zero dollars has been a long-time, widely used feature in Canada’s wireless sales promotions.

“The rules we are re-writing are the ones that has seen our competitors offer their customers handsets they claim are ‘free’ but that come with a catch — either through an additional monthly charge or other hidden fees,” said Chethan Lakshman, Freedom’s vice-president of external affairs.

Freedom’s main condition for getting one of two eligible Apple smartphone models, one of four Samsung models or an LG G8 ThinQ is to sign a new contract for a two-year Big Gig Unlimited plan during the promotion.

“We have no information to share at this time regarding end date. Absolute $0 is available for a limited time only,” Lakshman said.

Such limited-time promotions are a mainstay of the industry’s marketing, as carriers compete to sign subscribers during the busy back-to-school period and the seasonal gift-buying period before Christmas.

In the case of Freedom, its current back-to-school promotion has six possible automatic billing plans — ranging in price from $50 per month to as much as $115 per month —with variations in what level of talk, text and data is offered.

At $75 per month, Freedom was offering a Big Gig plan with a total of 18 gigabytes of full-speed data, although only 2GB is part of Freedom Nationwide agreements with other carriers and the rest is within Freedom’s own coverage areas.

Although Freedom’s rivals weren’t displaying $50, $60 or $70 per month unlimited data offers for their flagship plans, they all have the advantage of bigger national wireless networks as well as flanker brands with various pricing options.

Websites for the Rogers and Telus brands were showing Friday no-overage monthly plans with 10 GB of full-speed data at $75 per month, while the lowest listed price for a 10 GB Bell-branded unlimited plan was $85 per month.

David Paddon, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Holiday home turns Agassiz Ave into festive wonderland

Dean Sims has been decking the halls for Christmas for the last 18 years

Nights of illusion coming to Harrison

Magician Nigel Harrison will be bringing his magic show to the Harrison Lake Hotel this month

Snowfall warning issued for Coquihalla Highway

Up to 25 cm of snow is expected to fall in the region by Thursday

No dramatic increase for water, sewer fees in Agassiz secondary suites

Kent had considered increasing secondary suite fees to match that of single-family residences

Bizarre ‘hole punch cloud’ forms over Chilliwack

Several people posted images of the odd formation, which is scientifically known as a cavum

Agassiz’s Dickens Tea sells out for seventh year

The annual holiday event saw visitors enjoy high tea and historic talks

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

Snowfall warning issued for Coquihalla Highway

Up to 25 cm of snow is expected to fall in the region by Thursday

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Most Read