Freedom Mobile only launched their Band 66-based LTE network around Toronto and Vancouver back in November of 2016, but are already expanding it as far outward as Pickering and Brantford, and have even scored a new LTE roaming partner in the Ontario area; lips are tight on exactly who the new partner is, but some sources are saying that it’s Bell. Freedom Mobile had partnered up with Bell back in the 3G days, allowing the carrier to supplement their network buildout to meet customer needs. According to Freedom Mobile’s executive vice president of technology services, Brian O’Shaughnessy, more roaming partners are coming in the next few months, and LTE expansion is set to continue aggressively from the Toronto and Vancouver metros outward.
Once the Vancouver and Toronto areas are covered under the new network, Freedom Mobile is planning on expanding into Calgary and Edmonton during the summer, as well as Ottawa, St. Catherines, and the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Windsor, Kingston, Peterborough, Barrie, and London should all be worked on in about the same time frame, and go live on the new network a bit later; around the summer or fall, according to the carrier’s website. The carrier’s Band 66-ready device selection is also growing; the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are coming soon, and the roster should end up around a dozen by the end of the summer. As of now, the only Android device on the list is the LG V20.
According to O’Shaughnessy, Freedom Mobile is currently right on target with their LTE expansion in Band 66, touted as “Traffic-free LTE”. The infant LTE network is based on AWS-3 spectrum that is otherwise unused in Canada, and uses LTE Advanced technologies, including 4×4 MIMO and 64 QAM to achieve theoretical peak speeds of up to 180 megabits per second. Freedom Mobile has yet to introduce voice over LTE, which means that phone calls are still handled on older networks, but that could be viewed as a boon for the time being. While the new LTE network is being built out, traffic on the older LTE network will remain strictly data, which will help to keep customers satisfied with their data service and could even make the transition to the new network, and eventually integration of the two networks or even refarming of the older one, that much easier.