The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission today marked the coming into force of its wireless code, which enables Canadians to cancel their contracts at no cost after a maximum of two years.
The code also makes it easier for Canadians to understand their contracts for cellphones and other mobile devices and sets out their basic rights, according to the CRTC.
The commission says that the wireless code will apply to all new contracts signed as of December 2, 2013. It will also apply to existing contracts that are renewed or extended, or where the key terms are amended, as of that same date.
"The coming into force of the wireless code marks the beginning of a more dynamic marketplace for wireless services," says Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC. "Rather than feeling trapped by their contracts, Canadians will be able to make informed choices about the wireless services—and service providers—that best meet their needs every two years, if not more often. It will be in the best interests of wireless companies to adopt innovative practices to ensure their customers are satisfied and to attract new ones."
The wireless code enforces several new rules, including:
- limit data charges in excess of the usage defined in their plans at $50/month;
- limit national and international data roaming charges in excess of the usage defined in their plans at $100/month;
- have a cellphone unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if they paid for the device in full;
- receive a contract that is easy to read and understand.
However, some critics have denounced some of the wireless code as ineffective. For example, contracts may now be limited to two years, but major carriers Rogers, Telus, and Bell, simply raised the net costs of monthly contracts on two-year terms, eliminating most of the potential wireless savings the CRTC was hoping to create for Canadian consumers.
"These new cell phone customer protection rules will not be enough to rein in Canada’s Big Telecom giants," says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson.
"But this is a step in the right direction," he continued. "The Big Three cell phone providers control over 90% of the market and ultimately that number will need to change if Harper and Industry Minister Moore are to make good on their promises to bring down prices and improve choice."