A Weekend with Freedom: Nice LTE (if you can get it)

Here is Freedom Mobile’s LTE network at its very best in downtown Toronto, observed by yours truly in the second SIM slot of his Band 66-compatible OnePlus 5. I’ve definitely recorded better download speeds on Bell/Koodo/TELUS in the same neighbourhood, but Freedom’s speeds—and the low latency in particular—is perfectly acceptable for almost anything you’d ask a modern smartphone to do.

But here’s the thing: in my three days of informal testing across the GTA that LTE signal was pretty hard to come by. More often than not I was stuck on HSPA+, sometimes even on (gasp) 3G!

Not only that, but I can recall two incidents in particular where Freedom let me down entirely: the first was in the parking lot at IKEA North York, where the latency was so bad that launching Google Maps yielded no traffic data; the second was in the basement of Hudson’s Bay Company at Queen and Yonge, where I was surprised to suddenly find myself with no signal at all.

The rest of the time data on Freedom was slow but serviceable. I did keep an eye on my phone’s status bar, and when a rare 4G signal magically appeared I immediately did a speed test, with results similar to what you see above. This may, of course, be an issue unique to my unsupported hardware. But a chat with a rep at my local Freedom outlet gave me the impression that the phones sold by the carrier exhibit similar behaviour.

I will never fault anyone for choosing Freedom Mobile to vote with their wallet; Canada’s Big Three carriers have been ripping us off for far too long. But while I’d definitely recommend an LTE upgrade to an existing user, I also think that any Big Three customer looking to jump ship is in for a disappointing ride.

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