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.
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. 😉