The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has issued a wireless code that will make it easier for Canadians to understand their contracts and sets out their basic rights. The code will apply to new contracts for cellphones and other personal mobile devices starting on December 2, 2013.
“Every day, Canadians rely on wireless devices while in their homes, at their jobs, at school or travelling abroad,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC. “The wireless code will contribute to a more dynamic marketplace by making it possible for Canadians to discuss their needs with service providers at least every two years.”
The wireless code addresses the main frustrations that Canadians shared with the CRTC, which included the length of wireless contracts, cancellation fees, roaming charges and other industry practices. Among other things, individual and small business consumers will be able to:
- terminate their wireless contracts after two years without cancellation fees, even if they have signed on for a longer term
- cap extra data charges at $50/month and international data roaming charges at $100/month to prevent bill shock
- have their cellphones unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if they paid for the device in full
- return their cellphones, within 15 days and specific usage limits, if they are unhappy with their service
- accept or decline changes to the key terms of a fixed-term contract (i.e., 2-year), and
- receive a contract that is easy to read and understand.
The wireless code will apply to all service providers in Canada. In particular, the code will apply in full to postpaid services (where customers pay a monthly bill after using their services), and where applicable to pre-paid wireless services.
“The wireless code is a tool that will empower consumers and help them make informed choices about the service options that best meet their needs. To make the most of this tool, consumers also have a responsibility to educate themselves,” Mr. Blais added.
The participation of a large number of consumers and the collaboration of the wireless industry will ensure the wireless code’s successful implementation. The CRTC’s public consultation attracted over 5,000 participants, including individual Canadians, who shared their views on an online discussion forum, in writing and at the public hearing held from February 11 to 15, 2013.