The day Canadians have long been waiting for has finally arrived—Canada’s telecom regulator has announced a ban on locked cellphones and unlocking fees for individual and business wireless service customers.
If you are not aware of, let us tell you that Canadians usually have to shell out $50 or more to unlock cellphones when switching operators. Locked phones and unlocking fees have been big business for Rogers, Telus, and Bell, as it prevented customers from switching providers and also limited how customers were able to use their devices overseas.
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on Thursday, unveiled some sweeping changes to its Wireless Code of Conduct. The updated Wireless Code gives Canadians more control over their wireless services. One of several other changes aimed at it is – Starting December 1, 2017, the wireless customers will be able to have their smartphones unlocked free of charge upon request from their provider, while all newly purchased devices must be provided unlocked from that day forward.
The move was prompted by excoriating public criticism on unlocking fees after the CRTC requested public comment on new wireless rules. The changes came six months after the regulator heard from consumer groups who called for the rules to be tightened and enforced.
“That’s called a ‘Ransom Fee’ or ‘Hostage Fee’ in any other business. It is unbelievable how the government allows these companies to extort money like this,” one person wrote, as noted by the CBC.
The CRTC has also updated the trial period customers have with smartphone purchases. Customers who are unhappy with their service, can cancel their contract within 15 days and get a full refund on their “near-new condition” device at no extra costs—as long as they have used less than half their monthly usage limits.
The CRTC also clarified certain rules that are already in place under the Wireless Code. For family or shared plans, the account holder by default can be the only one to approve for data overage and data roaming charges, beyond the existing $50 and $100 per month caps. Account holders may be able to authorize other family members to authorize other users. These changes will take effect immediately.