The original development of Fido was funded in part by Voicestream, now T-Mobile US. Fido was the first provider in Canada to offer a network with the GSM standard.
In November 2004, Microcell was acquired by the other competing GSM carrier, Rogers Communications, for an estimated $1.4 billion. At the time of acquisition, Fido had 1,275,094 customers. The company's name was changed to Fido Solutions shortly thereafter. Fido has retained its data roaming service with T-Mobile. Shortly thereafter, Rogers also bought Sprint Canada, a telecom services reseller that was an MVNO partner with Microcell. As of May 2013, Fido had a customer base of 3,372,763 customers, making it Canada's fourth-largest wireless carrier.
Since its inception, the Fido network runs on GSM 1900 and offers coverage in major urban areas in Canada. This network continues to exist today. The end result is that both Fido and Rogers customers can now access and use all the towers of either network or both with a single account, device and SIM card. Regardless of which network is accessed, Fido customers will see “Fido” as the network name, and Rogers customers will see “Rogers” as the network name.
Similarly, HSPA+ service is available in 850 MHz and 1900 MHz frequencies. The maximum theoretical download speed is of 21 Mbit/s.
Fido Solutions has launched their LTE network in Halifax, Kentville, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Kelowna, London, Hamilton, Sudbury, Timmins, Windsor, Vancouver, St. John's, Quebec City, Moncton and other urban areas. Telus Mobility, Rogers Wireless, and Bell Mobility, other Canadian network operators, have also launched their LTE networks in most major urban areas.
Since the company's inception, Fido offered unique services to differentiate itself from its competitors. Notably, its CityFido plans include either multiple or unlimited local calling minutes in certain zones throughout Canada. Fido was also the country's first and last mobile service provider to bill postpaid airtime by the second, while other companies round up calls to the next minute except for some grandfathered customers. The FidoDOLLARS program offers a selection of rewards to loyal customers. (FidoDOLLARS are equal to 4 percent of a customer's invoice before service charges (NSF, re-activation fee, administrative fees and taxes.) As of April 2016, Fido phased out the FidoDOLLARS program. Fido also offers several plans and add-ons for mobile Internet access.
On November 4, 2008, Fido announced a re-branding and subsequent relaunch of their services due to competition from Koodo Mobile. This re-positioned the company as a discount wireless brand, offering postpaid plans virtually identical to those of Koodo with no system access fee or carrier-charged "911 fee". Clients using legacy plans, however, may keep them only if they continue to pay both fees. Current plans include 100, 200, 300, 500 or unlimited minutes incoming and outgoing calls. The $50 unlimited plan replaces the previously available CityFido plans.
All current plans include the Caller ID, a basic voicemail service (mini voicemail), call waiting and conference call features, plus unlimited outgoing and incoming text (SMS) and picture/video (MMS) from the Fido network to standard numbers worldwide, at no extra cost. The Rogers-pioneered WhoCalled feature is also included at no additional charge. Circle Calling is also included, which allows "free calls between people on the same account", with a maximum of five people per account. They also offer a minute tracker, similar to the one used by Virgin Mobile Canada, to remind customers when they have used 75% and 100% of their monthly minutes.
The CityFido Prepaid plan is now called the "in zone plan". It includes unlimited local calling while in the city of activation, plus unlimited text messages sent to standard Canadian numbers. The plan is now only available in Gatineau, London, Ontario, Ottawa and Toronto. It was previously offered in Quebec City, Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria. Customers in these cities must now pay a $10 monthly surcharge to obtain a nearly identical "with no zone restrictions plan". Fido discontinued the CityFido plan for new postpaid customers.
Fido Wireless Home Phone service was launched in mid-2013. Designed as an alternative to landline telephony, the service uses a ZTE access point to provide a connection between wired phones and Fido's network. The monthly plan features unlimited calling to and from Canada, Caller ID and voicemail. It costs $30/month on its own, but Fido postpaid customers pay $15/month instead. In the midwestern provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and in Quebec, the Wireless Home Phone is offered at a discounted rate of $10/month.
Fido offers several plans and add-ons for customers wishing to access Internet content via its mobile network using a BlackBerry, feature phone, mobile broadband modem, or smartphone.
Unlimited mobile Internet access is only available on feature phones. It is no longer possible to pay per month for such access, as only daily and weekly Internet add-ons are unlimited. Smartphone add-ons, except for those BlackBerry-related, can be used on a feature phone.
Smartphones can browse the Internet with a tiered add-on. This includes 100 MB for $10 and 2 GB for $25. If this allowance is exceeded, usage-based billing begins, costing $5 for an amount equivalent to that initially included with the add-on.
Unique BlackBerry Internet Service options are available for BlackBerry smartphones. Unlimited BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is included on all plans $35 or more, such as CityFido Unlimited. For all plans, it is also possible to pay an additional fee to add 100 MB or 2 GB of data. Note that the 100 MB option for BlackBerry devices costs $5 more than the regular smartphone add-on.
Fido has been heavily criticized for discontinuing its unlimited Internet access plans and add-ons for devices other than feature phones. In response, the company occasionally releases a popular add-on, providing 6 GB of data for $30/month. It requires a voice plan and hence cannot be used with an Internet access stick.
In November 2015, Fido began to offer cable internet services in selected markets. The service is a re-branded Rogers Hi-Speed Internet, offering a 30 Mbit/s package with a 300 GB bandwidth cap, with discounts as part of bundles with Fido post-paid mobile services. Fido internet is available to markets in Ontario that are served by Rogers' internet. The service is primarily aimed at millennials.
Fido has a loyalty rewards program known as FidoDOLLARS. For every Fido monthly bill or prepaid top-up, a customers receives 4% (previously 5% before September 6, 2012) of the pre-tax total in FidoDOLLARS. This currency can be used towards the purchase of a new device, purchase add-ons such as premium voicemail to text ($4), name display ($2) or #auto ($5) for a total of two months. As well as they can be used to purchase travel packs as long as you have the full amount of fido dollars to do so. Prepaid customers can also use their FidoDOLLARS to purchase top-up credits. FidoDollars have no cash value and are non-transferable, except when transferring the responsibility of a number/contract from an account with only one line.
With the release of Fido's new Pulse plans, FidoDOLLARS are no longer accumulated but existing FidoDOLLARS will remain on your account. However, if you are not on a Pulse plan you will continue to accumulate FidoDOLLARS as normal. To make up for the lack of FidoDOLLARS, Spotify Premium and Daily Vice are offered free of charge for 2 years ($239 value) in all new Pulse plans.
In January 2016, Fido announced a winddown and termination of the FidoDOLLARS program. See the next section for more details.
Fido once offered a wide range of services which it no longer offers. These have been discontinued either following the purchase of Fido by Rogers, or during "The New Fido" rebranding era.
Unlimited mobile broadband while in Canada or the United States, older CityFido plans and Sprint Canada bundles were some of the plan options removed after Rogers purchased Microcell. The unlimited mobile Internet access plans were replaced by tiered and rationed Internet access options, although feature phones were still eligible for unlimited access until early 2012. Only some legacy CityFido plans were grandfathered, and Fido now has new CityFido offerings. Sprint Canada bundles with Fido were temporarily replaced by Better Choices Bundles after Rogers purchased both companies.
Better Choices Bundles, couples plans, Danger Hiptop service, fax messaging, FullFido plans and mobile TV were all discontinued after "The New Fido" re-branding. Only some existing FullFido customers were grandfathered. The Better Choices Bundles program once offered up to 15% off a pre-tax Fido monthly bill when combined with one or more Rogers services, but Fido is now listed as a "service that do[es]n't qualify for the Better Choice Bundles™ Program". Couples plans were replaced by Circle Calling in 2011. Fax messaging was discontinued on September 22, 2009, but fax numbers could be ported out until December 22 of that year, and a similar service is still available at competitor Mike. The Mobile TV service offered up to 25 channels, but was discontinued due to a lack of subscribers. Competitors Bell Mobility and its MVNO Virgin Mobile Canada both offer a very similar feature called Bell Mobile TV.
Per-second billing on Fido's postpaid monthly plans was discontinued on July 4, 2012. Customers with plans created and activated before that date are kept on per-second billing until they change to a newer plan.
The company changed their plan offerings, now bundling data with their Smart plans, and Max Plans. CityFido plans had a cost of $35 per month and are available in ten select CityFido zones throughout Canada. Unlimited features included incoming calls, outgoing local calls, international SMS text messages and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service while inside any CityFido zone.
In January 2016, Fido announced a winddown and termination of the FidoDOLLARS program. The earning of FidoDOLLARS ends on or shortly after April 6, 2016 for non-term monthly plans, and ends at the end of the current term for those FidoDOLLARS-earning plans that are on a contracted term. The non-term monthly customers must then use up (redeem) their FidoDOLLARS by July 6, 2016, whereas customers on a FidoDOLLARS-earning contracted term must redeem their FidoDOLLARS by July 6, 2018 (or else lose the FidoDOLLARS balance in both cases). Fido customers with multiple lines are deemed to be in the second category if at least one line is on a FidoDOLLARS-earning contracted term that goes beyond April 6, 2016.
Fido has its own corporate retail stores, and also allows third parties to become exclusive dealers. For example, Best Buy, Costco, Tbooth, Walmart and WirelessWave sell Fido products along with prepaid and postpaid services. Additionally, Loblaw Companies and Zellers stores sold prepaid feature phones and top-up vouchers. Loblaw stores have a special booth, called The Mobile Shop, where the phones are displayed.
While Shoppers Drug Mart carried only Rogers Wireless prepaid phones at one time, the stores temporarily partnered with Rogers. As a result, Shoppers stores added both prepaid and postpaid products and services for Rogers and its two other brands, Fido and Chatr. Customers could also try out the iPhone 4. As of March 2011, however, Shoppers Drug Mart stores ended their partnership. They now only sell prepaid top-up vouchers for these providers.