Rogers, TELUS and Bell Lose Legal Challenge to CRTC Wireless Code

Rogers, TELUS and Bell, along with SaskTel and MTS joined together back in the summer of 2013 to challenge parts of the freshly announced CRTC Wireless Code.

Basically, customers that signed three year contracts back in 2013 prior to the Code being implemented (later that year) would be able to leave their contracts after two years, which also meant not paying any remaining hardware subsidies (or cancellation fees), thusly leaving carriers to foot the bill. The document filed in court at the time read:

“The application of the Wireless Code to those contracts that terminate after 3 June 2015 is uncertain. This uncertainty has led and will lead to confusion in the marketplace, which will only be resolved once this motion is determined and, if leave to appeal is granted, the appeal is heard and a decision is rendered,”

These customers on three year contracts, as of June 3, 2015, will be able to walk away from their terms and not pay any remaining hardware subsidies or cancellation fees. This group, coupled with customers coming off fresh two-year contracts are being dubbed the ‘double cohort’ by the wireless industry, as companies will be fighting hard to sign up these new ‘free agents’.

The Globe and Mail reports tonight the Federal Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the CRTC today and dropped the challenge put forth by carriers.

Justice Denis Pelletier, writing for the unanimous three-member panel, found the code did apply retroactively to contractual rights already entered into before the code came into effect.

However, he found the CRTC’s decision to interpret its governing legislation in such a way that gave it the right to make the code retroactively effective was reasonable.

“It is reasonable to have all customers on the same footing as soon as possible,” Justice Pelletier wrote.

OpenMedia campaigns manager Josh Tabish, which worked with legal teams from the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) to oppose the carriers’ challenge, called this a huge win for Canadians:

“This is a great win for Canadians, and sets a strong precedent for the CRTC’s ability to stand up for great choice and affordability in Canada’s telecom market,”  said in a statement.

Rogers and TELUS were not available for comment on the ruling, but BCE spokesman Mark Langton stated “the ruling is clear and we’ll comply.” If this is the case, then it’s most likely Rogers, TELUS, SaskTel and MTS will similarly comply as well.


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  • FragilityG4

    Double cohort is what they want. If you want a new device with a subsidy you have to have one of their new plans where you pay more for less. This is the Big Three Idiots dream.

  • carol argo

    BIG THANK YOU TO OPEN MEDIA,USA might not know you but ,you guys made this possible to happen.

  • Colin

    Just to clarify – any 3-year contract that still exists can be broken on June 3rd? (my wife is waiting impatiently with a 4S for her 3 year Telus contract to expire in Jan ’16 and would love to gtfo beforehand)

  • When did she sign her three year contract? January 2013? It’s only for those signed before the Code was implemented in late 2013.

    If that’s the case, as of June 3, she should be able to walk away, according to the Wireless Code.

  • Colin

    Yup – January 2013. We’ve been watching her telus contract-o-meter count down her amount owing for months.

  • definingsound

    My Feb 2013 contract contains a device balance amortized over 36 months. The new code seems to require that the device be amortized over no more than 24 months. So in theory, on Jun 3, I will be able to walk away from a device balance of $148.27; if I am willing to give up my plan – which I am not.

    So I suppose that Jun 3 I will have some leverage to negotiate for an early upgrade, with the existing device balance waived. Hopefully others will share their experiences in this regard, so that I can go in forearmed with whatever knowledge is req’d.

  • johnnygoodface

    I’m starting to believe in Justice!

  • I am sooo jumping ship from Telus after June 3rd! This is a huge WIN (for once)

  • Widohmaker

    I called Rogers a couple of weeks ago since I plan to leave them on June 3rd. The CSR was adamant that while I could leave I’d have to pay the balance of the hardware subsidy (about $60 balance). I advised the CSR that, as per the wireless code, that’s not what was written. He then backtracked and said that I was right and the decision on the hardware subsidy was still pending. I can’t wait to hear the consumer stories that come out now that it is actually written in stone. Hopefully we can expect to see some great deals next month as wireless providers fight over new customers.

  • Moomur

    It depends on when you signed your contract. If you are on a 3 year contract that you signed before June 3, 2013, you are free and clear come June 3 as that means you have been on that contract for 2 years. If you signed your contract after June 3, 2013 and before Dec 2, 2013, then you have to wait until your 2 years is up before you can walk away. What date did you sign your 3 year contract? You have to at least fulfilled the contract for 24 months before you are free and clear. So just make sure you check the start date of your contract.

    I doubt the big 3 are going to have any big deals like people are expecting, these 3 companies stick together when it comes to the price of their plans and their devices. You can pick the lesser of 3 evils or you can pick Koodo, Mobility and Fido which at the end of the day, are part of the Big 3 too. They have this in the bag so to speak, they have monopolized the whole market. LOL.

  • Widohmaker

    Well, my contract was signed in Oct 2012 so I am free and clear. But I agree with you regarding the oligopoly of the Big 3. Still I’m hopeful there are some reasonable deals starting June 3rd. Most likely the Big 3 will wait and see how many people are jumping ship. As for the low cost carriers, people jumping from the Big 3 to the low cost carriers still affects profitability.

  • Moomur

    Well I hear you, I think the best deals you are going to get is when you threaten to cancel. It will be interesting to see what happens that is for sure!

  • Moomur

    I am curious as to what phones they are offering you as an upgrade for zero cost. Is it the Iphone6’s and Samsung S6’s as well? Or just certain phones?