What’s next for Freedom Mobile?

In the 61 weeks since Rogers first laid out its $26 billion proposed takeover of Shaw, we’ve learned the Canadian wireless market (led by Rogers, Telus and Bell) is so uncompetitive that the prospect of any top carrier swallowing up the fourth-largest is… complicated.

Refresher: The deal requires approval from the Competition Bureau, which is serving up a hard no as of late in the interest of protecting Canadians from “higher prices, poorer service quality and fewer choices, particularly in wireless services.” 

  • More than 85% of Canada’s wireless market is controlled by three companies, while smaller firms like Shaw-owned Freedom try to compete by lowering prices, offering bigger data allowances and getting rid of data overage fees.

What happened: Rogers and Shaw are pressing ahead in their search for a Freedom buyer that would satisfy the Bureau, including Xplornet and Quebecor. Despite being left out of those conversations to-date, Globalive Capital has made its bid more competitive by striking a 20-year agreement to access the Telus’ wireless network.

  • The agreement aims to assure that Freedom will be able to offer a quality, cross-country network that could compete with Rogers, Telus and Bell.
  • Globalive founded Freedom, formerly called WIND Mobile, in 2008 before selling it to Shaw for $1.6 billion in 2016, and is now offering $3.75 billion to buy it back.  

Why it matters: It’s unclear if Rogers is interested in entertaining Globalive’s offer, let alone whether its purchase of Shaw would be approved as a result. But if the Bureau is concerned with the harm of separating Freedom from the Shaw network, a sale that would open up access to another nationwide network could sweeten the deal.