The CRTC has just released its revised wireless code and it looks like many Canadians will be pleased with the results. When the they asked online what bothered Canadians most about their cell service, people responded overwhelmingly that their biggest headaches were unlocking fees and strict contracts. And the CRTC delivered. Under the new code (effective December 1), cell companies will have to unlock any phones they sell free of charge and will unlock phones sold previously for free also.
Canadian cell phone providers charge an average of $50 to unlock a phone which many call an arbitrary fine. Locked phones can only be used with the original service provider and must be unlocked before you can use it with another company. This is limiting for consumers both when shopping for plans and traveling.
Since roaming charges are so high, it’s common for travelers to go with local cell companies when they need a cell phone abroad. With an unlocked phone, you can just switch the SIM card and use that local plan on that phone. If your phone is still locked, you need to either pay to get it unlocked or buy a new phone when you get the foreign plan. That makes traveling with you cell phone a little pricier than most would like. With this mandatory unlocking, you’ll be able to change the plan on your phone with just the switch of a SIM card (for free).
It’s not just the unlocking that’s going to be better for consumers either. Under the new wireless code, you’ll also be able to cancel a phone plan within 15 days of signing up for it. That gives you a little bit of trial time to make sure that’s the plan for you before committing to it for two years. The code also forbids providers from modifying key terms of a contract without consent, meaning it will be less likely for you to find those fun ‘surprises’ on your mobile bill.
So enjoy your cell phone freedom, Canada. Use your new power well.