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An Open letter to Freedom Mobile and Shaw Communications.

Update : This letter was written in March. In November of 2017, Freedom Mobile extended LTE service to all existing customers at no additional charge.

I'm typing this (literally) just to see if I actually have anything to say.

A few days ago, you rebranded Wind Mobile to Freedom Mobile and announced the impending launch of your LTE service. As a Wind Mobile customer, I have waited patiently for LTE to arrive. Well, truth be told, perhaps not all that patiently. I have been scouring the internet for months now trying to find clues about when LTE service might be expected. And so I was pleased to see the LTE announcement and a little concerned by the rebranding.

In my mind, rebranding has often been done as a way to end things with "previous" ways and means. Typically that means dropping some outdated plans or services or amending some terms to exclude people who have grandfathered "sweet deals". I was somewhat relieved to see that (at least immediately) you're not trying to kill the user base. What you have done, however, is intentionally excluded the user base.

Now, I fully understand that the 1,000,000 plus customers haven't done much for Shaw communications and likewise for Freedom Mobile (which I appreciate isn't really "just" a new name). I mean, all we really did was cost Shaw more money for the purchase (more customers = higher value). But we also kept Wind Mobile afloat while the others disintegrated to the point of being virtually worthless, which in turn led to it having enough value to be of use to Shaw communications. But that was then, and this is now. What have you done for me lately? Janet Jackson would be proud.

Well, the truth is, I did the most important thing. I stayed. We stayed. Over a million of us did. When we were offerred a reasonably good deal by Public Mobile to switch to an LTE network, almost all of us stayed. And to be fair, most probably were never aware of the Public Mobile offering. Now of course, you're still generally cheaper than the "Big Three", but lets not play games. The service is not comparable. Customer service has historically been so bad that I (in fact) refuse to call unless it's absolutely necessary. I would rather go to a warranty center and waste time standing around while they serve other customers until my turn comes (call center service has been THAT bad). So bad, that I may never recover to the point of being able to allow myself to form a new opinion.

And coverage? Well, the area covered is increasing. Most of the dead spots from 2 years ago are still dead spots today. I don't have a radical problem with dropped calls. I do miss a noticeable number of calls (messages showing up in my voicemail without the phone ever having rung). And while we're on the topic of voicemail. There was a voicemail problem a few years ago that was so bad and lasted so long that I literally had to find an alternate or switch providers (I assume the problem has been fixed, but I'm not confident enough to switch back to using your voicemail over my alternative). I run a business, and I can't afford to be without voicemail for more than a few days (that problem went on for over a month before I changed to the alternate).

And of course there's the ability to use the service while you are actually connected to it. This is generally not a problem for making voice calls or using Google Maps (which will constantly retry until it gets what it needs), but trying to load a web page is a crap shoot. Having said that I guess that I can "get" the page to load about 85% of the time. I can get the page to load reasonably fast, perhaps 10% of the time. and I can get the page to load without stopping and retrying perhaps 25% of the time.

All of this might make me sound like a dissatisfied customer. Quite the contrary actually. I knew all this going in. Well except for the customer service thing. When Wind Mobile launched, customer service was exemplary (as long as you didn't call at the very end or very beginning of the month. They were , in fact, too eager to do right by their customers. The other stuff was part and parcel of going with a new entrant in a new market at a discount price.

So why the open letter? Well, I, like many of your other customers have put up with the less than stellar service for years with the belief that it would get better and that eventually things like LTE would come. Things got better and continue to get better slowly. I'm all too familiar with the mentality that serving as many people as possible with an adequate service is infinitely more profitable that serving a smaller community extremely well. It's a sad fact of life that a business is a business first, and a service second.. The open letter is because I (having no right to) feel slighted.

I feel like a second class citizen. Me. one of the people who was there "virtually" from the start. I say virtually, because while I was active in the community before Wind even launched, I did not switch my service over until March due to having been on a contract at the time. And since that time I have been with Wind (now Freedom) Mobile. Admittedly, when they (Wind) offered a better deal than the one I had, I jumped on it, so I've got a pretty sweet deal as it is. And of course I want more. Freedom Mobile is where it is today because of people like me. People who participated in the original discussions. People who helped out on the public forum before it became a place to chastise newbies. People who stayed. People who got second (and third) lines. People who extolled the virtues of Wind to their relatives, friends and neighbours. People who actively sought out and brought additional customers to Wind Mobile.

But to be fair, I know this isn't Wind Mobile anymore. Wind Mobile (as I knew it) ceased to exist when Shaw Communications decided to purchase it. And that said, virtually everything that happened before that means "almost" nothing to Freedom Mobile. And perhaps thats okay. To Freedom Mobile, I'm almost "baggage", something they have to take with them, but don't really want. I'm perhaps not as much baggage as those who got the friends and family deal for life, but with the Holiday Miracle, I'm just another guy getting too much for too little. Perhaps I shouldn't under value myself quite so much. I actually carry 3 $40 phone plans and a $10 internet plan. This seems to be a reasonable contribution to Freedom Mobile's ARPU (Average Revenue Per User). And so if I ask for a little reward am I being greedy? Yes, I think I am.

The question isn't really if I'm being too greedy for wanting LTE or even if Shaw is being too greedy for not just giving me the LTE. The question is simply do the 1 million PLUS current subscribers deserve access to LTE without being forced to change to a plan which may provide them with less service than they get now for a higher cost. I simply don't think that's fair. Not so much the more money thing, as the "less service" thing.

Charge me $5.00 per month per line to upgrade my speed to LTE while keeping my existing plan. You make more money, I get more service for more money instead of less service for more money. Your ARPU goes up. My opinion of Freedom Mobile goes up. Everybody wins. I would still have to update my phone to even use the LTE and that's another cost for me. This seems like an equitable deal to me.

Unlike so many other people, I'm not going to threaten to leave if I don't get what I want. I'm a grown-up. I know there has to be a little give and take. I understand that you want all of us on the slightly higher cost lower service plans. But have you considered that (I'm willing to bet anyway) MOST of us on those plans with a lot of service for less money aren't really using all of those services? ( I am allowed 5G internet and typically use less than 1 and I virtually never text globally or call the USA). If you factor that in, getting an extra $5 out of me (per line) is effectively the same for you as having me change plans, except that I don't feel like I've been forced to give up what I have to get the newest toy.

Heck, I don't even need LTE. I just want data that works. Reliably. So my real reason for wanting LTE is so that my web pages load faster (or fail faster). I don't even know that I would actually pay $5 more for LTE (which might, to the rest of the world make this whole letter pointless), but I do know with absolute certainty that I am not ready to pay you $5 more each month to lose 2 Gigs of data per month and to gain 2 add-ons that I'll never use. Where is the logic in paying more, to use less, faster?

Save us all the hassle. and simply allow any plan of $40 per month or more to add LTE speeds as an add-on for $5 per month. You stand a better chance of getting the extra $5 that way than by making people switch plans. If you compare what most of the existing and previous $40 plans include, you'll probably find they are VERY comparable to what you are now offering for $45 except that many of these "long time" customers can benefit with a little more full speed data (as limited by their original plan). Reward your long time customers and raise your ARPU (or ARPA) in the process.

To paraphrase Dire Straits
♪♫♬I want my . . .
I want my LTE!
♪♫♬

. . . And yes everyone . . .

I know that no one from Shaw Communications or Freedom Mobile will ever read this.

... But they can.