Canada to ban sale of locked phones from December

Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Existing phones to be unlocked free on request and no new locked phones to be sold after 1 December, says regulator

The Canadian telecoms regulator will ban the sale of locked phones from 1 December 2017 and let all customers have the existing phones unlocked free of charge.

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) says the move applies to all individual and small business customers, who will also be able to return new phones and cancel their contracts within 15 days.

“The changes and clarifications we are announcing today will give Canadians additional tools to make informed choices about their wireless services and take advantage of competitive offers in the marketplace,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the CRTC, who made the announcement as one of his last acts in his role: he leaves the regulator tomorrow.

The CRTC is enforcing the rules by amending the Wireless Code, a mandatory code of conduct created in 2013 for providers of retail mobile wireless voice and data services.

“The Wireless Code has helped make the wireless market more dynamic to the benefit of Canadians. While they appreciate the Code, they told us loudly and clearly that it could be more effective. We have listened to them,” said Blais.

Included in a set of wide-ranging changes, the CRTC also said that operators cannot unilaterally change the terms of a service contract – covering voice, text and data – without the account holder’s express consent. “These clarifications apply immediately,” said the regulator.

Customers who are unhappy with their service will be able to cancel their contract within 15 days “and return their device in near-new condition at no costs, as long as they have used less than half their monthly usage limits”, the CRTC said.