The Complete Recap of WIND Mobile's Official Launch

WIND Mobile Launch
By Adam Zeis on 18 Dec 2009 12:00 pm EST
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[ Forums member AngryChineseDriver gave us a good look at the official launch of WIND Mobile's official launch event this week. He provided a good summary of features, as well as what to expect from the carrier. You can jump into the forums for more discussion, or check out his full article with images from the event. ]

I woke up at 5:45a.m. yesterday, December 16, to catch the official launch of Canada's newest national carrier, WINDmobile, at the Queen's Quay Headquarters location in Toronto, ON; all I can say is that it was absolutely worth it.

Earning the spot of WIND's second customer ever in its young history, I was able to live-tweet (with frozen fingers at one point while standing outside in the beautiful yet Winnipeg-like winter weather) all developments. However, it was all worth it as I got a personal shout-out from the WINDmobile CEO, Ken Campbell.

The WIND staff was (and still is) everything they were hyped up to be -- extremely enthusiastic (especially knowing that they'll have a steady job over Christmas), very knowledgeable, and determined to provide subscribers with the utmost standard in service and assistance. Of course, being a brand new company running on a brand new network, we were bound to run into problems. Transactions and activations took a bit of time, and I'm personally experiencing some expected network difficulties.

NOTABLE UPDATES (by now widely-released)

  • No activation fee either!
  • Unlimited text IS available for $5/month.
  • Not all stores are ready, only six opened today apparently. But ALL BlockBuster locations have opened.
  • The number-porting system is NOT ready yet.
  • WIND will NOT be unlocking phones because they claim it contravenes "Canadian copyright issues."
  • NO SIM-CARD ONLY ACTIVATION UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
  • The current HSPA network will upgrade to HSPA+, of course, just don't know when.
  • The four released handsets will have to suffice for at least a few months.
  • Android devices, Nokia N900, and Sony Xperia X10 coming soon.
  • The AWS iPhone is coming soon, too! When I asked, the staffer said "no comment" with a smile.
  • Data will be throttled after 5GB (more on that below).


WHY YOU SHOULD NOT SWITCH TO WIND YET

Since WIND is launching on a brand-new network with brand-new staff, it's obvious why their launch was fairly quiet - they just can't handle a massive amount of traffic all at once. An influx of new subscribers would merely overwhelm the staff and quickly deteriorate the excellent customer service experience they've worked hard to build and promote. So while I think WIND would work best in terms of price and service for many Canadians, slow and steady may win the race:

  • You don't want the hassle of cancelling or selling your current contract.
  • You don't want any network hassle.
  • Your carrier actually offers a damn good retention plan that suits your needs.
  • You already have an AWS phone and you just need a SIM-card.
  • You want to port your number from your current carrier.
  • You're an exec with Rogers, Bell, or Telus.


WHY YOU SHOULD SWITCH TO WIND NOW

There are plenty of good reasons. Hey, just at Queen's Quay alone I'd say over 100 people did it within the few couple hours of launch!

  • You believe that respect is a two-way-street, and customer service reps should be helpful and friendly.
  • You don't want the hassle of constantly tracking your usage.
  • You want to jump on the latest network.
  • You want to promote better wireless competition in Canada.
  • You head up wireless accounts for your company - $80 for everything unlimited is a damn good deal! Plus don't forget about super cheap handsets.


THE PHONE

Ah yes, my beloved new BlackBerry Bold 9700. Well, you've read all the reviews and seen all the pics, so I'll just say this: coming from someone who has NEVER owned a BlackBerry, BBM IS DAMN ADDICTIVE. I also love the WIND startup screen, reminds me of good times from this morning . The call quality is solid, the trackpad isn't wobbly. It's freakin' fast, and 200% gorgeous.

The weirdest reaction: I've been using my 9.9mm thin Sony Ericsson W890i for over a year now, and I've been quite accustomed to firing off messages at bullet-speed on one of the slimmest and smallest phones on the market. Believe it or not, I actually found the 9700 keys really small!! Now I kinda know why the 9000 owners were upset. Yet, I still wish for an even slimmer Berry to be released in the future.

A very, very special thank you goes to the CrackBerry.com community. This BlackBerry Bold 9700 is in my hands because of your votes for my APPLECALYPSE short film in the CB "I Love My CrackBerry" Contest!! And from the great teamwork and discussion in the CB Forums, I've been able to learn to use my BB so much faster than without your tips and tricks.

CONCLUSIONS (in brief)

While I am very impressed with WINDmobile even walking in yesterday morning with high expectations, there is still one issue that concerns me: WIND's release of their "fair use policy", which dictates that massive usage in the "unlimited" plans will be monitored and, especially in the case of data, potentially throttled. They have already admitted that 5+GB of data usage will result in throttling due to optimal "network management", but they have refused to disclose the lengths and limits to which they are willing to go. Given that they are a new carrier shining in the spotlight against the ugly background of Rogellus, to maintain their "power of conversation" community-based mantra they must refine such policies while allowing further transparency and accountability.

All this said, I have zero regrets about switching, and I intend to look back ten years from now and say, "Well, it's been great, WIND...let's toast to ten more years"! WINDmobile's entrance into the Canadian wireless market, sustainable or not, at the very least brings some much-needed competition and more value per dollar.

Reader comments

The Complete Recap of WIND Mobile's Official Launch

24 Comments

Hey, the weather in Winnipeg is awesome now. :) I was tempted to leave my winter jacket at home this morning!

You listed one of the reasons not to switch as: "You want to port your number from your current carrier."

Why can't you port your number over?

Big ups to TORONTO!!!!! Home sweet home!
This article makes me want to call Rogers and tell them where to shove it.

Is this only going to be in Toronto for now? Like how Fido was only Toronto, Ottawa, etc... I'm smack dab in the middle, Kingston, and I am unsure if I want it here yet ^_^. I would never switch myself, but I am a cell phone retailer and we probably wont have Wind and therefore take from our sales. Plus Ma Bell has been making a comeback lately, meanwhile Robbers Wireless has been doing the opposite.

For those who can get wind, I am sure they will do great! I am also curious... who did they get their towers from?

And on the Weather... Here in K-Town it is FRRRRRRREACKIN COLD!!! I hate winter -_-;;;;;

I too am wondering where they are piggy backing cell towers from? I doubt they were big enough to have surplus for their own cell towers etc...unless I'm wrong?

So I have a question, Wind said they won't unlock their phones, but since it is a blackberry wouldn't a 3rd party company be able to unlock the phone or would Wind have some way to prevent unlocking overall somehow?

Yes 3rd party companies can unlock the phones. I have already unlocked mine and there is no prevention of unlocking from WIND.

If you need a wind phone unlocked, you can visit unlockit.ca and send a comment saying that you want to unlock one. It costs $20

they wouldn't work anyways on telus, bell or rogers...the bold 9700 for wind has aws bands which are not supported and will not work on the big 3 networks. it is a different model than the one being sold by the big 3

Under reasons why you SHOULDN'T switch to WIND yet should be: YOU LIVE IN AN AWAY ZONE!!!

Any call you make in an AWAY zone costs your 25¢ a minute!! Ouch.

I think I read an earlier article, that said their backup towers would be piggy backing off of rogers/fido? I dono if that's at all helpful haha

Hey guys,

Just to clear up a couple things:

1) The WIND team is all trained and ready to port numbers, but they claim it's an issue with Rogellus disallowing it.

2) They cannot unlock your phone because of "Canadian copyright issues", or else they would have followed through with the plan. However, they have zero issue with you bringing in unlocked phones.

3) Coverage is limited, of course, since it's a brand new network. If you sign up now, you better be in Calgary or GTA/Hamilton, and expect some network issues here and there!

But the WIND team is very kind and supportive, so any issues you have should be resolved quickly and efficiently. I'm happy with my CrackBerry! :D

Thank you for the reply, just a couple of follow up questions. So on #2, they won't unlock the phone for you themselves but there is nothing stopping you from buying their BB 9700 from them with no contract and then unlocking it and using it with some other provider is there? Is there a way for WIND to stop anyone being able to unlock a BB any other way? I don't know too much about unlocking as I have a CDMA blackberry which can't be unlocked. Not too sure exactly how it works.

Just like Rogers back in the day (not anymore), WIND has nothing against unlocked phones or unlocking your WIND phone.

However, do keep in mind that their network is 1700mhz Band IV, which is INCOMPATIBLE with other 3G networks.

Therefore, you CANNOT take ANY unlocked Bold 9700 (other than from T-Mobile which runs on the same network) to use on WIND. Using an unlocked WIND/T-Mo Bold 9700 on any other network gives you only 2G EDGE.

That's why WIND would have unlocked their phones if they were allowed to.

P.S. Your CDMA BlackBerry won't work at all, WIND uses sim-cards.

Awesome, thanks. I was planning on buying the Wind 9700 for $450 and then unlocking it and using it on my bell contract but it doesn't seem like that would work. Thanks for the help, now only if I wasn't stuck in a contract I may consider moving to Wind.

It actually might work... according to the wind website, it supports all the aws and the gsm frequencies and the wind reps said that the phone is backward compatible. I have unlocked my WIND phone so I am going to try it with my brothers rogers sim card and will let you know if it works. If the rogers network works in the WIND 9700, you can get a sim card from telus and it will work aswell.

One thing that would detour me from going to WIND would be the fact that when you leave Toronto (home coverage) you roam onto ROGERs EDGE network @ $.25/min.

I guess if you never leave Toronto, and have a few hundred dollars to drop on a phone and want regular HSPA over HSPA+ WIND works for you. In the mean time, Ill stick to having my cell phone company giving me my phones for free and actually working other parts of Canada.

The launch has just happened in calgary and I went and picked up a 9700. They stated that they couldn't switch over my number until monday because of some technical issues. They did however give me a temporary number to use until the switch can be made. I tested the sim card in my unlocked 9700 and iPhone and it works on both but only on the EDGE network and it states that it is connected to WIND Away. I also managed to unlock my WIND 9700 but havent yet tested it on the rogers network. I will check it out and post back.

Just go out of Home Zone coverage and you'll be roaming on Rogers. Beware, you'll get charged!

Plus, roaming is slow as hell because you're just on 2G EDGE!

Btw, where did you get your BB unlocked so far? I didn't know there were unlocking sites already offering service for WIND BBs.

The phone is on EDGE even when I am in the home zone because of the unlocked phone it only works on their EDGE (away) network.
I unlocked it myself... you can go to my website http://unlockit.ca and send me a comment. Im unlocking them for $20.

So after testing everything, it seems to be exactly what people thought would be true... When you unlock a rogers phone (in this case i used an iPhone), you will get reception but only on the EDGE network (WIND Away). When you unlock a WIND phone (my 9700), It will work with rogers but again, only on the EDGE network. I was surprised to see when I put my Rogers sim card in the WIND phone and manually searched for networks, it found a 3G network (302-something) although when I tried to connect, it only allows emergency calls.

Blackberry 9700. It cannot send or receive pins or BBM when in "away zone". Wi-Fi only works if you purchace 35 dollars package its is disabled.

Some updates and confirmations, there is no activation fee, Unlimited text is available for just $5 per month, WIND will not be unlocking any devices as this contravenes Canadian copyright issues. I drive my own online accounting business and use blackberry for my business. It is amazing to work with it.