CRTC Rules All New Smartphones Must Be Sold Unlocked

Following a review of its 2013 Wireless Code, it has been announced by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that, from December 1 of this year, all smartphones must be sold unlocked, meaning they can be used on any network. In addition to that, customers in Canada will also have the legal right to have their smartphones and other relevant devices unlocked free of charge from that date if they wish. It also stated that any customer who is unhappy with a new service can return the device for free and cancel the contract within the first fifteen days, as long as under half of their total monthly usage limit has been used and the device is in a "near-new" condition.

Mobile service providers often purchase devices from manufacturers that are locked and programmed to only work with their networks. A fee of around $50 CAD is then charged to unlock the phone so that a customer can switch carriers, or at least that was the case so far. When the CRTC reviewed its wireless code earlier this year, it invited the public to submit their opinions about what they’d like to see changed. Many individuals complained specifically about the cost of unlocking devices, especially as the CRTC recently reported that telecom companies in Canada made around $37.7 million in 2016 solely from unlocking mobile devices.

In addition to the new regulations, the CRTC has also expanded upon some rules that were already in place under the Wireless Code. It stated that the account holder on shared or family plans must be the individual who consents to data roaming charges and any over-usage of data beyond the monthly caps that are currently in place. It is hoped that this will prevent customers from being served with massive bills when they aren't even aware of the true cost of the service they are using. These caps do not take into account the number of devices connected with the account - they are applied on a per-account basis, and the account holder can authorize other users on these plans to consent to additional charges if they wish to do so. The clarifications publicized by the CRTC come into force today.

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Alexa Ward

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