Canada typically is seen as the more progressive country when compared with the United States, but in the wireless industry, it’s been a little more complicated. For one thing, service contracts are by and large out of play in the South as they still go on strong in the North.
Another seemingly backwards aspect in the business is that US carriers will unlock devices for free if they meet certain requirements. It’s a begrudging mulligan, but it is being offered by all major players in the industry at no charge.
Not so in Canada. The Globe and Mail reports that the industry made $37.7 million from 943,000 unlock processes with each process charged at about $50 apiece. Operators are keen on keeping customers locked in, even if they have to do it by the device.
Well, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has just completed a review of its 2013 wireless code and has set in place changes that will force carriers to offer unlocking free of charge from the time consumers purchase a device starting in December.
Rookie player Freedom Mobile, owned by Shaw Communications, complained that customers may end up happy with the change, but it leaves the carrier easily vulnerable to poaching promotions from bigger competitors like Telus and Rogers.
In a microcosm without any real unlimited data plan options, the CRTC has also clarified that only an account holder has the authority to set overage limits for data ($50 per cycle) and roaming fees ($100 per cycle) per line unless said holder relinquishes that responsibility to a line holder.
There are also now guaranteed 15-day trial periods with no-charge device returns and no contract cancellation fees if the customer uses less than half of their data allotment.
In related fee removal news, the European Union has shut off fees for roaming customers.