CRTC bans cellphone unlocking fees, orders that all future devices be unlocked

A key rule has been changed for Canada’s wireless service providers.

Under a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruling announced Thursday, carriers large and small will be obligated to unlock their customers’ mobile devices free of charge as of December 1, 2017 – and to sell unlocked devices from that day forward as well.

The organization also announced that updates to its trial period standards will now allow customers unhappy with their service – providing they have used less than half their monthly usage limit without damaging their mobile device – to cancel their contract within 15 days and return their device at no cost.

In a June 15 statement, CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais said the changes were a response to feedback from Canadians regarding the organization’s Wireless Code.

“While [Canadians] appreciate the Code, they told us loudly and clearly that it could be more effective,” Blais said. “We have listened to them.”

In addition to the unlocked devices ban and trial period standard update, the CRTC clarified certain existing rules under the Wireless Code as well: that service providers cannot change a wireless plan’s voice, text and data services during a contract period without the account holder’s express consent; and that only the account holder can consent to data overage and data roaming charges above the caps of $50 and $100 per month, respectively, under family or shared plans.

Wireless service providers may allow account holders to authorize other users to authorize data overage and data roaming charges, the CRTC noted; however, the caps apply on a per account basis, regardless of the number of devices associated with the account.

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former IT World Canada associate editor turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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