Requiem for Fido (The Pre-Rogers Version)

Fido logo I still remember the first time I saw a Fido handset. It was some kind of Ericsson, pre-dating the T18z but with a similar design, with an integrated belt clip built into the hardware. Like most Ericsson handsets of the day it was very European and classy, but then Sony bought out their handset business. And while market share increased, that elusive cachet was largely gone.

It’s the same story with Fido; back in the days when Rogers was still a TDMA network, Fido was GSM all the way, and carried the first dual-band handsets that could be used in Europe and parts of Asia.

But then our government inexplicably allowed Rogers to buy a controlling stake in Fido, effectively creating a monopoly on GSM service in this country. For the past few years Fido has languished, with Rogers getting most of the premium handsets for their own portfolio and tossing a bone or two Fido’s way.

New Fido Logo As of today Fido has a new logo, and there can be no mistake about its place in the Rogers empire — as Koodo is to Telus and Solo is to Bell, Fido has officially been re-branded as the poor cousin to the “premium” Rogers Wireless.

But it’s not all bad news: To effectively compete in the bottom end of the market Fido has done away with the roundly-criticized System Access Fee, and while their handset lineup will continue to be, well… craptacular, the killer feature of the removable SIM chip — enabling the use of unlocked phones — remains intact.

Though I’m clearly a mobile elitist I’ll be staying loyal to Fido for the foreseeable future — I’m locked in to a pretty damn awesome calling plan and a best-that-can-be-expected-for-Canada deal on data. Still, it does suck that Fido isn’t cool anymore…

What I’ll miss:

  • The exclusive handsets, especially my hiptop;
  • The European-flavoured ads, courtesy of Fido’s Montreal-based agency;
  • Being the envy of fellow Canadian travellers to Europe and Asia.

And not so much:

  • The System Access Fee, obviously;
  • The small, largely urban calling area before Rogers took over.

What I’ll most remember:

  • Driving home from the family cottage and re-acquiring a digital signal just north of Orangeville, Ontario — letting me know I was back in civilization. πŸ˜‰

By Andrew

Mobile phones, Linux and copyright reform. Those go together, right?


  1. AC:

    I just checked out the Fido Jebus phone plan, and the page still contains the system access fee for both of the premium iPhone plans. So either they haven’t updated the website yet or it’s still caveat emptor for smartphone users….


    PS: craptacular is an awesome word.

  2. Yeah, funny that… I have enough Fido Dollars to get a free subsidized Fido iPhone (and extend my contract another three years), but I would lose the SAF credit on my existing City Fido calling plan — or in other words, so many sheep want an iPhone in their grubby hands that Fido & Rogers can charge whatever they want for it.

    P.S. I didn’t invent the term craptacular but wish I had — see #11 here

  3. I’m in the same boat with SAF and City Fido plan on two of my accounts… Otherwise I would’ve gotten 3 jebus phones which would’ve increased my overall contribution to the solid gold statue of Ted Rogers by about $100 worth of data plans. Instead they chose to squeeze me for $15 so they get neither… typical asshole mentality.

    As for fido… Rogers is working hard on running it into the ground, which is obvious from this latest update. I mean who in the right state of mind would put “giving low prices a new home” and an image of a dog house together? And the page title is “untitled”… impressive QA.

    I despise Rogers and really wish there was an alternative… 😦 The moment there’s something else I can use, I will cancel every single service i have with them.

  4. hehe… that’s what you get for outsourcing your development to india… You can even see people’s dev comments in the source code.

  5. I think Suresh and Munira did a pretty good job with what little they must have had — Ted Rogers likely showed them the Bulk Barn logo and said “run with it”…

  6. I don’t like the yellow but then, I’ve never been a fan of the yellow color. It’s too bad that Fido remains only available for metropolitan cities but then, we know it’s only to keep the existing Fido customers around or they’d all go Bell or Telus or, better yet, Virgin.

    I’m hoping that when Globalive comes that Rogers will be forced to drop that fat SAF and give us some decent plans and maybe allow us to go back to more reasonable 1 year contracts. Yeah, they’re still around but I remembered a few years ago when I could get a free phone on 1 year but thanks to Telus (hate them), everyone went 3 years.

  7. “But then our government inexplicably allowed Rogers to buy a controlling stake in Fido, effectively creating a monopoly on GSM service in this country.”

    In 2004, Fido was dying for lack of capital. T-Mobile, the best candidate for a takeover, was overextended after buying up a lot of regional GSM networks in the USA (and they were wary of Canadian ownership rules). Telus offered to buy Fido to kill it off. In the circumstances, the Rogers buyout (100%, not just a controlling stake) was the best option available. Not so inexplicable.

    Fido had a GSM monopoly in this country from its founding in 1996 until early 2001, when Rogers introduced GSM. The two companies competed on GSM for only about three and a half years before the takeover. Blame it on the incumbent US & Canadian phone companies and their anti-GSM bias, which created a technology standards war instead of competition among multiple GSM providers.

  8. Hey Justin,

    My understanding was that T-Mobile was actually very interested in rescuing Fido, but the CRTC wouldn’t allow it — and then they green-lit the Rogers deal without any understanding of the implications for the marketplace.

    This is, of course, based largely on what I was reading on the Howard Forums at the time — if you’ve got info, links etc., that can further enlighten us, please feel free to share.

    Do you work in the wireless industry?

  9. I myself have the original City Fido plan as well. And until august i had the 50 dollars unlimited data plan that like three people know about. I canceled it and got the 6gb for 30 dollars. Anyway, i rememeber the pre Rogers days very well. Rogers took over in september of i can’t remember which year, and in august the official unofficial word came out that september will be the official takeover moth. That’s when herds and herds of people lined up at fido to get the unlimited local calling and the smart ones got the unlimited data plan as well. I originally turned the data plan down but then had the sales girl convince me to get it. Bless her soul.

    Back then the sales people knew about the phones they were selling. They could answer all sorts of questions because they had all sorts of phones. It was a small, little, well organized and well oiled business and i really liked it. I watched them as they gained their reputation amongst my fellow university business students. Fido and the original Napster back in 2000 were some of the talk at smoke sessions πŸ˜‰ in the park during spares. Ahhhh the good See, fido and their city fido was originally a university geared plan.

    The original city fido was fascinating because it wasn’t say, an area was covered. The original city fido covered universities like all of toronto, then Guelph, Windsor, the universities out in Berrie were also on the list and i can’t really remember the rest. Ultimately however the plan was introduced about eight months or so prior to the official unofficial word about the take over.

    Shortly after rogers took over they began chopping my city fido plan to only an area just out of toronto, then to only the GTA. And the NEW city fido, only goes to like Im still covered out in Vaughn and north Brampton. Not berrie though. They’ve also put all sorts of limitations on the plan like it’s no longer transferable from phone # to phone #. When my contract was up in dec. 2007, they sent me a letter stating that i can either, continue NOT getting the system access fee OR i can get a new phone. Meaning that if i want to use my 170 fido dollars to get the iphone, i will begin receiving system access fees. How sad.

    And now with this new goofy website, everyday im waiting for a letter stating that “we cannot provide you with your “city fido” plan anymore because we cannot afford it.” See, my monthly minutes are in the vicinity of 1,500-1,700. And two months ago when things were really cooking it reached just under 2,200.

    What a shame.
    But i guess nothing lasts forever weather good or bad.

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