CRTC Says Wireless Code Applies to Device Financing Plans from Wireless Carriers

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) clarified the Wireless Code similarly applies to device financing plans sold with a wireless plan, including those over 36 months.

With wireless carriers pushing device financing on contracts of 24 months, and moving away from legacy subsidy models, the CRTC on Thursday reiterated, “device financing plans must comply with all relevant protections of the Wireless Code to ensure consumers are fully protected.”

According to the CRTC, early cancellation fees for device financing are similar to those of device subsidies and customers have protections as well under the Wireless Code.

Early cancellation fees must be reduced to zero within 24 months under the Wireless Code, says the CRTC. During those 24 months, consumers may need to pay an early cancellation fee, based on the calculation formula from the Wireless Code.

“One of the core principles of the Wireless Code is the ability of customers to take advantage of competitive offers in the marketplace. We want to ensure that device financing plans are not being used to keep customers with their current provider at the end of their service contract,” said Ian Scott, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, CRTC, in a statement.

The CRTC says wireless providers “will have one month to update their contracts and documentation and train their staff to reflect this determination.”

The wireless rap game is relatively simple in Canada, yet expensive flagship smartphones make it complicating. Buy a device in full if you can, then get on a bring your own device (BYOD) plan; switch carriers when new BYOD promotional plans pop up. Signing a financing contract usually is more expensive as you’re paying off the device, plus you’re required to subscribe to a higher monthly plan.