Since the February 2017 review of the 2013 Wireless Code, device unlocking fees have been a hot topic. They have been referred to a "ransom fee", and outraged Canadians - including even some carriers such as Freedom Mobile - have called for them be abolished completely. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) reported that Canadian telecoms made $37.7 million last year just from unlocking customers' cellphones.
Today the CRTC announced that the Canadian Wireless Code is being updated and upgraded. Starting December 1, 2017 cellular providers for both small business and individuals can no longer charge a fee to unlock customer mobile phones. All devices purchased from that day forward must also come unlocked.
Another update is the addition of a 15-day trial period that allows unhappy customers to cancel their contract and return their device in good condition at no cost to them.
The rules on family plans have also been clarified, and the new rules are effective immediately; only the account holder can give consent to data overage and other additional charges in a shared family cellphone plan.
Quick facts as laid out by the CRTC
- The Wireless Code is a mandatory code of conduct for providers of retail mobile wireless voice and data services. The CRTC created the Code in 2013 to make it easier for Canadians to understand their mobile contracts, to switch service providers, and to prevent bill shock.
- The Code promotes a dynamic marketplace by empowering Canadians to make informed choices about their wireless services and establishing standards for industry behaviour.
- Canadians should discuss their complaints with the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services, who is well placed to help them navigate both the current rules and pending changes.
- To ensure Canadians with disabilities have a reasonable opportunity to test their services, they will be able to use up to 100% of their plan’s voice, text or data during a 30-day extended trial period.
- The CRTC held a public proceeding in which consumer groups, wireless companies, academics, accessibility groups and individual Canadians provided their views on the Wireless Code’s effectiveness. The changes and clarifications announced today result from that input.
"The Wireless Code has helped make the wireless market more dynamic to the benefit of Canadians. While they appreciate the Code, they told us loudly and clearly that it could be more effective. We have listened to them. The changes and clarifications we are announcing today will give Canadians additional tools to make informed choices about their wireless services and take advantage of competitive offers in the marketplace.” - Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC
Image Credit: Matthew Keys on Flickr