Much ado has been made about Vidéotron acquiring Freedom Mobile as part of the Rogers-Shaw merger.
Despite all the talk of a fourth national carrier and lower prices for Canadians, Freedom has already logged a price increase since the ownership change.
As spotted by Ben Klass, a researcher for the Canadian Media Concentration Project, Freedom’s 20GB ‘Big Gig Unlimited’ plan went from $40/mo in March to $45/mo in April. On a closer look, it appears what’s actually changed here is the associated credit for customers who bring their own phone, dropping from $10/mo for 24 months to $5/mo for 24 months.
While not technically a price increase, the cost of Freedom plans has effectively increased by $5/mo for new customers who bring their own devices, at least compared to before the acquisition. This increase would impact any Freedom plan with the $10/mo BYOP credit.
Freedom Mobile's 20GB plan has increased in price by $5 since a month ago. I guess this is Videotron "coming out swinging" pic.twitter.com/078CX4gSFt
— Ben Klass (@BenKlass) April 24, 2023
Thankfully Freedom’s plans still cost significantly less than the competition (for now). It costs $67/mo or more to get 20GB of data from flanker brands like Koodo, Virgin, or Fido, and the Big Three charge $85/mo for 25GB — Freedom’s 25GB plan costs $50/mo for BYOP customers.
Of course, that leaves room for further price increases. Freedom Mobile’s new owner, Pierre Karl Péladeau, was praised for coming out swinging with plans to undercut the Big Three’s prices by 20 percent — something that Péladeau is bound to do by the agreement he signed with Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne. Another part of the agreement is that Freedom must maintain prices for existing customers for at least five years and increase their data by 10 percent.
But that doesn’t stop Freedom from changing prices for new customers, and with the 20 percent rule, Freedom can actually increase prices and still meet the terms of the agreement. For example, the Big Three charge $85/mo for 25GB of data, which means Freedom could charge about $68/mo for a similar plan under the rules of the agreement — an $8/mo increase over the provider’s current plan, not including the Digital Discount or BYOP credits. Klass actually makes this exact point on his blog. And while plan prices are the focus of the agreement, as we’ve already seen, other bonuses and credits are free game.