Canada’s CRTC abolishes unlocking fees and bans locked smartphones

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“[Canadians] told us loudly and clearly that [the Wireless Code] could be more effective. We have listened to them.”

In a move that’s definitely going to make Canadians happy, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) is not only abolishing unlocking fees but will also be disallowing the sale of locked smartphones. Currently, most smartphones sold in Canada from providers like TELUS, Bell, and Rogers are locked to their networks and users must pay a $50 fee to get them unlocked. The move comes after a review of the Wireless Code which is Canada’s mandatory code of conduct for providers of retail mobile wireless voice and data services.

“The Wireless Code has helped make the wireless market more dynamic to the benefit of Canadians,” said Jean-Pierre Blaise, Chairman of the CRTC. “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.”

The move isn’t immediate, but as of December 1, 2017, small business and individual consumers will be able to have their smartphones and other mobile devices unlocked for no charge upon request. Any devices purchased on or after this date must be sold unlocked as well. This move may likely bring the end to phone exclusivity as it will be easier to buy a phone from one provider and use it on another provider’s network. Not only that, it will make it easier for users who travel to be able to use roaming SIM cards from providers like Roam Mobility as they won’t have to pay or worry about having a locked phone.

The CRTC also announced a number of other changes, including allowing consumers to return devices and cancel their contracts within 15 days so long as the device is in near-new condition and they have used less than half of their monthly limits. Currently, the various carriers have far more restrictive guidelines for device returns — some allowing for returns only if consumers have used less than 50MB of data and 30 minutes of voice usage. Another change clarifies what happens with data caps on family and shared plans, as well as streamlining various interpretations of wireless plan key terms.

What do you think about the changes the CRTC made to the Wireless Code for Canadians? Let us know in the comments below or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

  Source: CRTC
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