CRTC Announces Unlock of Cellphones Free of Charge
On June 15th, 2017, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)’s announced updates to its Wireless Code program – a system that protects the consumer rights of Canadian mobile users. The most important update to the program was the free-of-charge unlocking services that Canadians can now enjoy. As of December 2017, cell phone companies will not be allowed to charge their users for unlocking phones. Additionally, all mobile devices must be provided unlocked from the day of purchase.
What is the Wireless Code?
The Wireless Code program came into effect in 2013 and was designed to protect and to enable Canadians to understand their consumer rights. It is a mandatory code of conduct that all retail mobile providers and data service providers must abide by. While the code attempts to protect consumer rights, it also attempts to promote a dynamic marketplace, enabling citizens to make informed choices about their devices, their contract choices, data plans and provider services.
With the Wireless Code, users are able to understand their mobile plan, change providers, understand billing costs and be able to return their cellphones to the carrier if they are not satisfied. Canadians with disabilities have a 30-day trial period to use a 100% of the plan’s voice, text and data services. If they are unsatisfied, they can return the phone with no additional charges applied. Users are also able to make a complaint against their provider if they are not being provided with satisfying service. All cellphone operators and network carriers in Canada must abide by the code and ensure that they establish consumer-friendly business practices.
Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC shares a positive note about the update, saying, ‘“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.”
Additional Updates to the Code
Users can also enjoy an additional privilege of canceling their contract within 15 days if they are not satisfied with the phone or the service. There are no costs to returning the phone as long as they remain within the cap limit of their monthly usage. Users can also share their plans with family members provided they consent to data overage and data roaming charges. This rule is applied on per account basis and not on the number of devices, so users can connect as many devices as they want, provided they do not go beyond the established caps of \$50 or \$100. In the instances that they do go beyond, they will have to pay for additional charges as required. The data plan includes all voice, text and data communication and cannot be changed by the service provider.