Published: Sun, June 18, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

No more unlocking fees in Canada from December 1

No more unlocking fees in Canada from December 1

Mobile carriers in the US force customers to jump through hoops to get their smartphones unlocked. 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 exclusively from unlocking mobile devices.

Canceling the unlocking costs could cost the major wireless providers a total of $ 37.7 million, the amount raised in 2016, according to documents provided by the CRTC.

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced Thursday that starting December 1, individuals and small businesses will be able to get their existing phones unlocked from their carriers, free of charge.

Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC, said that they have listened to customers, who spoke "loudly and clearly" about wireless concerns.

Indeed, these changes and reiterations of the Wireless Code of Conduct will bring quite an improvement to the way the carriers in Canada serve the mobile consumers. Unlocking a phone allows an owner to use the device on another network without having to buy a new phone from that specific carrier. Waiving the unlocking fees will mean users will have the ease to switch carriers and the flexibility to change their smartphone plans. What isn't being said, though, is that many phones being sold at the carrier level today, including the Google Pixel and upcoming Essential Phone, are unlocked out of the box from the manufacturer.

Canada's wireless market is dominated by three major players: Rogers Communications Inc, Telus Corp, and BCE Inc's Bell Mobility. Currently, many providers only allow for 30 minutes of voice usage and 50 MB of data, which could both be used up extremely quickly.

The account holder must give the consent to data overage and the carrier must allow it.

The 2013 wireless code required carriers to offer unlocking services after 90 days but the CRTC also said Thursday that as of December, wireless providers must make newly purchased handsets unlocked to begin with. 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.

The move comes after dozens of customers blasted rules on unlocking phones after the CRTC asked for citizen comments on the country's mobile codes.

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