The federal Competition Bureau won’t press the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC ) to forbid wireless carriers from offering three year cellular plans, one of the most criticized aspects of the Canadian industry.
Opinion: Wireless regs should be an interim stepLast week, the CRTC released a draft document laying down its proposed changes to the country’s regulations covering wireless carriers and the services they provide. The draft will be subject to public hearings within the next few weeks and CRTC has asked the public to put in their suggestions. The Competition Bureau’s submission is in response to this request.
• Fees for unlocking a device need to be disclosed in advance and unlocking to be allowed after 30 days
• Carriers need to explain clearly the limits of their “unlimited plans”
• Carriers need to inform customers when they have reached 50 per cent, 80 per cent and 100 per cent of their usage limits
• Charges should be suspended when a phone is in-repair
The country’s three biggest carriers, Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications and Telus, use three-year contracts as a way to subsidize the cost of high-end smart phones — the longer the contract the more the subsidy.
That’s how they are able to sell Apple iPhones for $180 (full price $700 on a month-to-month plan) or the new BlackBerry Z10 for $140 (full price $650).
However, many critics have noted that over a three year period, subscribers end up paying more for the phone (on a $50 a month plan a subscriber ends up paying ($1,800) Canada is one of the few countries in the world where a large proportion of wireless subscribers are still on three-year plans.