Wind Mobile officially launched in Ottawa Friday, making it the fourth Canadian city to be included in their network.
Wind Mobile offers no-contract plans that include many features, such as no long distance charges, but it is important to know how far your “Wind Home Zone,” the Canadian cities in which Wind Mobile has established networks, extends.
“The minute you drive out of that network, you start to roam, and the charges rise,” said Chris Connolly, a former telecommunications executive. “As it stands now, they have a limited network.”
Although the company does not say it outright, they are not hiding it, said Connolly. They use the term “Home Zone,” which is where you can get the lowest rates.
Anywhere outside of the Home Zone, there are roaming charges of 25 cents per minute, said Ken Campbell, CEO of Wind Mobile.
Campbell said that these roaming charges are still less than what customers would pay for long distance fees with another service provider, and they also extend to the United States.
“We’re killing long distance,” said Campbell.
He said Ottawa’s Home Zone extends to Orléans, Kanata and Gatineau.
Daniel Paré, an associate communications professor at the University of Ottawa, explained that wireless service providers work within a system called network interconnection. In order to promote competition, the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Committee requires that the larger providers like Rogers, Bell and Telus, provide smaller companies, such as Wind Mobile, with access to their networks.
However, unlike other smaller mobile companies, Wind Mobile is building their own network, explained Connolly.
“Because it’s going to take (Wind Mobile) some time to build out their network, they’re blending the coverage from their own network, plus the other cell networks they are renting with right now, to have a broad enough coverage,” said Connolly.
Wind Mobile has launched their network in Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton, where it is the cheapest for customers to use because they do not have to pay the larger service providers to use their system.
Paré said he does not think that Wind Mobile will pose a threat to the bigger companies, for now at least.
“The fact that they’re a localized urban service means perhaps not that much competition at this early stage,” he said.
However, Connolly noted that this may appeal to a younger demographic because they are primarily marketing to people who do not want to be roped into a contract.
“Many younger folks have the desire not to be tied down—to be outside contracts,” he said.
This could be useful for students in any of the four cities, as price is often a main concern. Students at Carleton University especially can expect “good coverage,” said Campbell, a Carleton alumnus, as an antenna is currently being built on campus.
“They’re trying to build a more customer-friendly approach,” said Connolly.
Campbell agreed. “Not only value at a much lower price, but a proposition that’s a much more positive experience, and is simple to understand.”