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

Surrey council unanimously votes down move to allow more liquor stores

Amid a cannabis shop ban in the city, Surrey councillors had questioned proposed zoning changes

Ban on sleeping overnight in RVs, motorhomes on Surrey streets referred back to staff

Proposal came amid complaints about homeless people living in recreational vehicles

Surrey developer says second Central City office tower doesn’t need to be taller

Application for second 25-storey tower at mall sent back to staff by Surrey council for being ‘way too low’

Dog rescued from South Surrey house fire

Firefighters dispatched to 19400-block of 0 Avenue

Rec centre staff honoured for their help to revive teen who collapsed in weight room

BC Emergency Health Services presented Vital Link awards to four City of Surrey employees on Sunday

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

Police watchdog seeking ‘key witness’ in Taser incident along Vancouver seawall

Independent Investigations Office of B.C. looking for woman who was sitting nearby with dog

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

B.C. mayor apologizes for removal of Queen’s portrait from council chambers

‘I prefer to be inclusive of the many aspects of our history’

Alcohol a possible factor in crash that killed 17-year-old girl near Williams Lake

A pickup truck left the road and rolled over on Highway 20 on the weekend

Rare bird spotted in Victoria draws enthusiasts from across the continent

It’s the first time a yellow-browed warbler has been reported on the mainland of North America

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Most Read