Carriers Made $37.7 Million Last Year from Unlocking Fees


Remember that nasty unlocking fee carriers charge you? Well, that’s a nice revenue stream for carriers, according to the latest data revealed by the CRTC at the request of Canada’s Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) (via MobileSyrup).

While the CRTC doesn’t break down the data by carrier, it is still interesting to see how much revenue this fee has brought carriers during the past three years. The data was submitted to the CRTC, and the regulator released it at the request of PIAC.

Crtc carrier revenue

As you can see from the table above shared by Marina Pavlovic on Twitter, the number of handsets locked by the carriers increases year by year, as does the revenue generated by the fee. What’s worth noting is the difference between the data from 2014 and 2016.

Last year Canadian carriers made a combined $37.7 million unlocking a total of 943,363 phones, which means the average unlocking fee was $40. Two years earlier, the same carriers made $21.5 million unlocking 734,5945 handsets. That means a $29 unlocking fee per device on average. In 2015, the fee rose to $30.

During the CRTC review of the Wireless Code introduced in 2013, this unlocking fee was mentioned by Freedom Mobile. The carrier formerly known as Wind Mobile suggested the CRTC do away with all unlocking fees.


  • iphoner

    How is it that after having paid an exhorbitant contract rate for three years that ultimately Bell, Telus or Rogers still “owns” a part of the phone? I learned a few years ago to buy outright my phone and not be tied financially to any one provider.

  • Chris Kim

    Given the rise of the different “Tabs” at Canadian carriers, getting a subsidized phone isn’t a real discount any more – yes you get ~$500 discount on the phone, but you typically pay $20 more per month in your plan (ie. Premium Tab at Rogers). Over a 2 yr contract, that means you’re paying $480 more in your plan, and so really only getting a discount of around $20. All carriers are effectively doing for you now is giving you an interest free loan for $500 which you slowly repay over 2 year contract life.

    Assuming you can afford the liquidity hit of shelling out $1k for a new iPhone (instead of $500 “discounted”), you should 100% buy the phone outright from Apple. This allows you to: 1) keep your plan (getting a “subsidized” phone requires you to go on a carrier’s most recent plans), 2) get an unlocked phone (makes resale price more valuable too).

    I have done this with my and my wife’s most recent iPhone purchases, and will do it with the new iPhone 8 10th anniversary phone this Sep.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Even the “evil” AT&T doesn’t charge to unlock phones. So what does that make Rogers?

  • Cornfed710

    Buy outright and join Public Mobile ????


    I was paid 104000 dollars in last twelve months by freelancing online a­­n­­d I was able to do it by working part-time f­­o­­r few hours /daily. I followed work model I found on-line and I am excited that i made such great money. It’s very user friendly a­­n­­d I’m so grateful that i found it. This is what i did… http://jump­.­wtf/CCcHHu1