Competition Bureau on Draft Wireless Code: Ban Locked Phones, Limit Contracts


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The Competition Bureau has submitted its suggestions to the CRTC in its demand for feedback regarding the draft wireless code, published late Wednesday:

The Bureau believes that discouraging the creation of switching costs that tend to reduce customer mobility, and effectively encouraging the provision of sufficient information to enable informed consumer choice, will allow Canadians to enjoy the beneficial effects of greater competitive forces in wireless markets, including lower prices, higher quality service, and greater innovation.

The Commissioner of Competition submitted a lengthy response to the CRTC’s working paper on the draft wireless code. Below are some of the major areas it recommends the CRTC should adopt in finalizing the draft wireless code.

  • Wireless Service Contracts Should be Limited in Duration
  • Handset Locking Should be Prohibited
  • Termination Fees Should Be Minimized
  • Advertised Prices Should Disclose All Mandatory Costs
  • Limited Plans Should Not be Advertised as “Unlimited”
  • The Wireless Code Should be Reviewed After 3 Years

Earlier we told you a major concern for consumers is contract length in Canada, which remains at 3 years for the latest smartphones compared to 2 years in other countries such as the U.S., and in other wireless markets such as Australia. The Competition Bureau shared your concerns and stressed support to limit contracts lengths:

The Working Paper, however, does not contain a suggested limit on contract duration and, in fact, explicitly contemplates the continuation of three-year contracts. The Bureau supports measures to limit contract length and to ensure that consumers maintain the ability to move from one service provider to another. However, if contract lengths are not limited by the Wireless Code, then it is particularly important that contract terms and termination fees are clear and not unnecessarily restrictive, so that customers are not tied to these contracts in a manner that will harm competition.

You can still submit your thoughts regards to the CRTC’s draft wireless code by visiting here, until February 15th.

[via The Globe and Mail]


  • FragilityG4

    So basically they don’t want phones to be subsidies. Personally I think that the companies should still be able to lock phones but only for the duration of the contract. Once the contract has been fulfilled they should have to unlock the phone free of charge if requested.
    Two year terms work in the states so there’s no reason why they can’t work here.

    If there were no subsidies on phones (worldwide) it would force manufactures to lower handset costs … But it would have to be worldwide in order to work.

  • Sid from Van

    <3 it!

  • Subsidized locked phones are a privilege nobody wanna lose but the contracts should be limited to 2 years max. Unlocking the phone for like 30-50$ during the contract as it goes with Koodo and some other carriers is a good thing but they should unlock it automatically once the contract is over. Other than that I think prices are not that bad especially with what Koodo and Virgin offer.

  • DJ Buddha

    I agree, the only issue is that when you drop phone prices, you cut jobs. It’s a tough pill to swallow to drop $700+ on a phone. But again, there’s more at work here then just dropping prices. Somebody will suffer. I hate it too, there shouldn’t be this stranglehold on customers to stay on a carrier. There has to be a middle ground somewhere.

  • Jon

    Whatabout stopping the illegal practice of charging overage fees? It is ILLEGAL to charge by the bit or byte according to the Units & Measurements Act. Why is no one looking into this?

  • Zzxxcc

    Well, CRTC, show us Canada is a real free country and as advanced as others. 3y contract…still????!!!!! Come on. Wake up and look around!

  • DoctorSlurpee

    Where is this units and measurements act you’re talking about? I tried to find something about it but all I found was a weights and measure act but at a cursory glance I saw nothing in it implying anything regarding what you’ve said. I’d like to read more about what you’re talking about.

  • I don’t think you should have to pay to unlock your phone if you have payed to terminate your contract early. If you have a three year term and you pay the fee required to terminate the contract early, paying to unlock your phone seem like double-dipping in the customer’s wallet. Also, Koodo and Virgin have lower prices because the have poorer Customer Service. That may sound fine in the beginning when signing (who doesn’t like to save a few buck or parlay that savings into additional features) but then when you are having issues, the support is abysmal.

  • pure_4

    Or the people that worked for robelluss can find different/better jobs. Any they can feel better about themselves because they don’t work for an unethical amorally bankrupt organisation.

  • The weird thing is I remember my first contract (with Rogers) was 2 years and the one after that (switched to MTS) was 18 months, each with subsidized phones. Somewere along the way they decided gouge us and we just took it, expecting no one to stand up for us.

  • zach

    i respectfully disagree with some others here that it’s acceptable to have locked phones. If you buy a subsidized phone on contract, whether or not you use that carriers sim, one is stillboind by the contract (ie.payments over the course of that contract will fulfill the subsidy costs).

    Why should i be tied to a single, canada-based carrier for global service? This pains me to know end. I frequently travel internationlly for work, and international roaming rates are no whete close to a fair proposition. Its a place of massive profit for the carrier, and unfair (or at least impractical) for the consumer.

  • zach

    sorry for typos…”one is still bound by the contract (ie.payments over the course of that contract will fulfill the subsidy costs).

  • NoOneCares

    On the unlocking point – why should carriers be allowed to lock phones at all? The only purpose is to make it harder to switch. If you are in a contract, you are obligated to pay whether you use the phone on their network or not. Why not let people have contracts with multiple carriers, while still having only one phone? Or do pay as you go instead of paying roaming fees – it’s just a anti-competitive way of locking in income for the carrier.

  • FragilityG4

    You raise a good point about the contract. I think they should offer you a subsidized phone on and off contract.
    On contract the phone is unlocked and if you terminate the contract early you pay the balance of the subsidy.
    Off contract the phone is locked and if you plan to leave before the subsidy is payed back you pay the balance and the phone is unlocked.
    Or you just pay the full phone price, no contract, no locking.

    Also special voice/data plans should not be with term contracts.