OTTAWA – Cell phone owners will be able to change providers as they see fit on December 1, 2017.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced Thursday that all phones purchased from that date will need to be unlocked.
Locking devices is a way for cell phone companies to build customer loyalty. They charge fees ranging from $ 50 to $ 150 to their customers who would like to unlock their phone for use on another network.
These costs will be a thing of the past before the beginning of the next year. Customers who already have a locked device can have it unlocked at no charge.
This new rule, to be included in the CRTC’s Wireless Code, will apply to both cellular and tablet devices.
The CRTC also made changes to the trial period for a new device and clarified some of the rules on family or shared plans as well as voice, text messaging and data services.
The updated code, which first came into effect in 2013, now stipulates that dissatisfied customers will be able to cancel contracts within 15 days provided the devices are in an almost new condition and Customers did not use more than half of their monthly plan. It also indicates that suppliers can not unilaterally change the main elements of a contract with a customer on voice, text and data services.
Canceling the unlocking costs could cost the major wireless providers a total of $ 37.7 million, the amount raised in 2016, according to documents provided by the CRTC.
A step forward for consumers
Consumer advocates applauded the announcement of the changes, saying they should offer Canadians greater clarity in service contracts.
“The wireless code is a major step forward in protecting consumers, and these revisions will further reduce the risk of maltreatment of Canadian users to large telecommunications companies,” said Katy Anderson of OpenMedia.
“Changes … will greatly contribute to Canadians’ knowledge of their rights with respect to cell phone packages,” she added.
The code revision was initiated after the CRTC received complaints from consumers regarding excessive cellular pricing and wireless cancellation fees.
The changes are announced six months after the regulator heard the advice of consumer groups that accused some cell phone companies of violating the passive or active wireless code and A tightening of the rules.
“Consumers find the code useful, but they made it clear and clear that it could be more relevant. We have heard them, “said Jean-Pierre Blais, president of the CRTC.
“The changes and clarifications we are announcing today (Thursday) will provide Canadians with additional tools to make informed choices about their wireless services and to take advantage of competitive offerings in the marketplace,” he said. .
The original code prevented contracts of three years, limiting them to 24 months. But in many cases this led to higher monthly bills as service providers had to recoup the costs of smart phones over a shorter period of time.
Telus had called on the CRTC to allow the option of a three-year contract, arguing that the longer period could reduce monthly bills by amortizing telephone costs. But other service providers, including BCE and Rogers Communications, have not defended the same position, and the regulator has not made any changes to this portion of the code.
Current unlocking fees:
Bell: $ 50, $ 75 or $ 150 depending on the situation
Rogers: $ 50
Telus: $ 50
Videotron: $ 50