Canadian Telecom Commission Puts an End to Locked Cellphones and Unlocking Fees

Canadian Telecom Commission Puts an End to Locked Cellphones and Unlocking Fees

In a major win for Canadian consumers, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has given more power to the end-user by putting an end to the carrier practice of selling locked cellphones and then charging unlocking fees on these phones.

Canadians now have more control over their wireless services as the CRTC has announced that from December 1, 2017, all individual and small business wireless service customers will have the right to have their cellphones and other mobile devices unlocked free of charge at their request. Additionally, all newly purchased devices in Canada must be provided unlocked from that day forward.

This is a major blow to Canadian telecom companies as these regulations take away money-making opportunities and tip the balance back in the favor of individual users. Phones can no longer be sold locked to that particular carrier, which would allow customers a lot of control and bargaining power on which carrier’s service they would like to use on which device. This also has the potential of changing how contracts work in the country, as telecom companies will no longer be able to exercise the same level of control over smartphones.

The CRTC also mentions that the trial  period updates will now allow customers who are unhappy with their service to cancel their contract within 15 days and return their device in near-new condition at no costs, as long as they have used less than half their monthly usage limits.

These new rules will come into effect from the first of December of 2017 and have the power to transform the Canadian wireless service sector into a consumer-first area. Unlocking fees for locked phones could often be as much as ~$50, so abolishing this fee entirely puts the consumer back into the driving seat.

The CRTC also clarified certain rules that are already in place. For instance, for family and shared plans, the account holder must be the one who consents to data overage and data roaming charges beyond the provided caps of $50 and $100 per month respectively. This should be the default stance, though wireless service providers can allow account holders to authorize other users to consent to additional charges. The caps also apply on a per account basis and should have no correlation to the number of devices associated with the account. Wireless providers also cannot unilaterally change the terms of voice, text and data usage during a contract without the holder’s express (and not implied) consent. This is a crucial clarification as it leaves no room for telecom companies to legally exploit the customer through clever small print.

What are your thoughts on CRTC’s new rules and clarifications to the existing rules? Should other regulatory bodies around the world also adopt some of these new rules? Let us know in the comments below!


About author

Aamir Siddiqui
Aamir Siddiqui

I am a tech journalist with XDA since 2015, while being a qualified business-litigation lawyer with experience in the field. A low-end smartphone purchase in 2011 brought me to the forums, and it's been a journey filled with custom ROMs ever since. When not fully dipped in smartphone news, I love traveling to places just to capture pictures of the sun setting. You can reach out to me at [email protected]