Part 2: The Wonder Years

For my personal golden age of mobile telephony to begin I first had to sign up with a proper GSM network. In Canada there was but one such option at the time; it was called Fido, and it’s still around today — albeit with new ownership.

When I moved in to my current home in early 2000 I contacted Bell Canada to get a landline phone installed — as was the style of the day. When the technician arrived I immediately noticed that he had a Fido-branded cell phone clipped to his belt. I couldn’t help but ask:

“Shouldn’t you be using a Bell product?”

“Fido’s got a better signal,” was his terse reply. How’s that for a ringing endorsement?

Fido in the early 2000s was very much like Mobilicity and WIND Mobile a decade later; an upstart to the wireless status quo that competed simultaneously on two fronts — innovation and price. At one time, when the mobile Internet was available but not widely used in North America, I had an option on my account called Fido Pro. Eight extra dollars a month got me voicemail, call display/waiting/forwarding, unlimited text messaging and unlimited (circuit-switched) data — until Mobilicity and WIND came along there was no better value in Canada for mobile users.

A few years later Fido got me to ditch my landline altogether, thanks to the unlimited local airtime available on their City Fido initiative. And a month after that Rogers bought them up and everything slowly went to hell.

But I soldiered on with Fido until 2010, mostly because I didn’t really have anywhere else to go. But thanks to the magic of the subscriber identity module (SIM card), a removable chip found inside every GSM-based handset, I was able to burn through more mobiles than ever before…