New cell provider on way

Okanagan residents could soon have another cellular service provider to choose from.

Freedom Mobile is planning on expanding its network to the region, according to an application before Penticton city council for a new cellular tower within city limits.

The Shaw-owned company formerly known as Wind Mobile is currently available only within the Lower Mainland, something that will change soon.

The application before council Tuesday explains the company is planning “its network build for the launch” of services within Penticton, and requests the city sign-off on an 18-metre tower proposed for an industrial lot at 1953 Dartmouth Road.

Federal regulations state public consultations must be carried out with neighbours within a radius three times the tower’s height, 54 metres in this case. A report prepared by city staff indicates that consultation occurred late last year and no complaints were registered.

Freedom Mobile has focused on building out its network in urban areas of Alberta, Ontario and B.C.'s Lower Mainland. The company’s website says networks will go live in Victoria and Nanaimo this year, but gives no mention of a timeline for the Okanagan.

The company was founded as Wind Mobile in 2008. It was purchased by Shaw and renamed Freedom Mobile in 2016. It offers data and talk plans at prices considerably more affordable than the big three (Rogers, Bell and Telus) but charges their users roaming fees when they are outside Freedom's "home" networks.

Those roaming fees currently make the company a non-starter for those in the Okanagan, but that will change with the launch of a network in the region.

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