How the End of 3-Year Cellphone Contracts Will Affect You Starting June 3

Carriers and customers are counting down to June 3, 2015, which will spark the end of three year contracts due to CRTC Wireless Code regulations.

Telecom reporter Christine Dobby for The Globe and Mail has written an excellent overview of what you need to know about the end of three year cellphone contracts. Below is a snippet of how you could be affected by the Wireless Code:

How will this affect me?

If you are on a two-year agreement, your contract will not be affected, but if you still have a three-year cellphone plan, you could be affected in one of two ways.

1. If you signed a three-year agreement before June 3, 2013, you will not have to pay any device subsidy balance remaining on your contract and cannot be charged a fee for cancelling your contract. That is because you will already have been on the contract for at least two years, the maximum length of time the carriers have to recoup the value of the device subsidy.

2. If you signed a three-year contract after June 3, 2013, but before Dec. 2, 2013, you will soon be able to walk away from your contract without a cancellation fee, but you must wait until at least two years have passed since you signed the agreement.

When the CRTC Wireless Code was announced in June 2013, carriers started to phase out three-year terms but not immediately. This means some of you may still have some time to wait until you hit your two year anniversary date before you can walk away without paying the remaining device subsidy.

The most important takeaway here, is for customers that signed a three year agreement before the Code was implemented on December 2, 2013. Rogers, TELUS, Bell and other wireless carriers recently lost a legal challenge arguing the Code should not apply retroactively to three-year contracts signed prior to December 2013 start date.

So once you hit your year two anniversary of your three year contract between June 3, 2015 and December 2, 2015, you will be able to walk away and not pay cancellation fees or remaining hardware subsidies (the Code says carriers only have max two years to recoup hardware subsidies).

If you’re still not sure when the Wireless Code will apply to you, the CRTC has a guide here, while a similar guide explains how to calculate your cancellation fees for your cellphone contracts.

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We keep hearing about the “double cohort” lately, which essentially encompasses two groups of people: those able to walk away from three year contracts as stated above, and those with expiring two year contracts as of June 3, 2015. This large group of coveted ‘free agents’ means carriers may offer better incentives to compete with one another.

We’re already starting to see that with some similar BYOD offers across the board from Fido, Koodo and Virgin Mobile, which will require an unlocked phone. Staying unlocked may be the preferred way to go if you’re looking to reduce your monthly plan cost. Depending on your situation, buying an unlocked device going forward and sticking to BYOD may be the best option.

Are you in one of the above scenarios right now? What are you going to do starting June 3, 2015?

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  • Graham

    What about business plans? I just got a new phone and they told me these rules don’t apply to business lines.

  • Fireeast

    I am going to wait for the text/phone call, because I need a good Laugh.

  • FragilityG4

    Wasn’t there a ruling against Telus that business plans that the individual pays more than 50% out of pocket the code still applies?

  • Andy

    According to your article, it says 3 year terms are over, but the CRTC guideline says 1,2, or 3 year terms are over. I signed a 2 year term in November 2013, but the guide says I fall into the category of my term being wiped out, so what is it?

  • JW

    I am part of a corporate plan (through Rogers business) but pay my own plan costs. How will this effect me?

  • Nigleet

    CRTC stated that corporate plans are not exempt from the wireless code. You’re in the green, if you want to leave that is.

  • JW

    Thanks for the info. Always great to have choices.

  • Ryne

    My 3 yr plan comes due in September. Rogers has been contacting me regarding a new plan and an upgrade. I am in no hurry to do anything as I am hoping that a new phone will launch this September. They have offered an $80 plan that includes unlimited nationwide calling and text with 4 GB of data. It doesn’t sound bad. I would prefer to move to Bell, but I will never get a similar plan.

  • Jon

    That’s a horrible plan! I have unlimited canada wide calling and text, call display and voicemail and 6gb for 60$ on Fido!

  • CanucksGoals

    I have similar plan as well with Fido since iPhone 3s came out. Ryan has nationwide US and Canada calling which we don’t. He has better data speed and coverage which we don’t have as well. So it’s actually a good plan. But I can live with that.

  • Salinger

    I have a better plan than that as well. But that doesn’t make it a “horrible plan!”. You can’t compare old legacy or retention plans with what’s on offer in 2015.

    By saying it’s a horrible plan, then what you have that’s better must be readily available for him and others to sign up. I doubt very much that it is, but if so, provide the link and I’m sure many people will be very pleased with you.

  • Salinger

    Same here, though i’m paying $50/month for 5GB data with all the extras. I don’t foresee getting an offer that will be competitive with that. I’d rather buy my own phones and keep this plan.

  • Ryne

    Thank you for your input. I have friends that have the old Fido plan. Lucky for them.

  • Ryne

    I appreciate your comments. These plans and negotiations are so exhausting. I also like the roam like home feature as I travel to the U.S. regularly.

  • Anon

    That’s because you’re either in MB or SK, which for some reason, like to treat those provinces like precious little princesses. They have price wars there and plans are half price. If you live in BC or ON, expect to be treated like a dirty whore and get raped. You’ll pay double what you are paying now.

  • Ronin

    The CRT Guideline doesn’t specify any years, but it refers to the code. The code applies to 3 year terms.

  • AK

    I signed my 3 year contract May 28, 2013 with rogers. It means after June 3, 2015, i don’t need to pay anything to cancel my contract. am i right understanding about this article?
    Thank you.

  • Mac

    I got a note from Bell regarding my corporate plan which was supposed to go to September 2015, they moved me to a month to month plan, same features, 6gb data, but no mention of the 60% discount that I’ve been enjoying.. Is that normal? Or am I out of luck?? No way I’m paying 120+tax for a phone line!!

  • Dan Olczak

    If I joined a Rogers 3 year contract Feb 2014 can I cancel Feb 2016 with no penalties?

  • kEiThZ

    Manitoba has MTS. Saskatchewan has Sasktel. Competition makes a difference.