CRTC Wireless Code Live: Know Your Rights

by Istvan Fekete on December 3, 2013

The day Canadian mobile subscribers have been waiting for is here: the CRTC’s new Wireless Code is finally live. The code provides basic rights for customers and imposes new requirements on carriers, such as limiting cancellation fees, and forces wireless players to unlock phones, provide a trial period for wireless contracts, and, last but not least, to set default caps on data charges.

The code comes into effect six months after the initial announcement. One of the biggest changes the wireless code has brought is the elimination of three-year contracts, the major complaint of Canadian wireless subscribers. This, however, has came at a cost: after the code was announced, prices paid up front for subsidized devices increased, as carriers implemented two-year contracts.

As it turns out, the six months that have passed since its initial announcement have been enough for the carriers to successfully lobby against the Code’s unwanted tenets. We have already reported that the incumbents have challenged some parts of the code, but MobileSyrup noticed that the tenet that granted the right to cancel a service without giving 30 days notice was removed from the Code.

Major wireless carriers announced at the end of last month that they have completed all the necessary steps to comply with the new wireless code. But besides the heavily publicized benefits of the code, there are a couple of maybe lesser-known benefits, as highlighted below.

As a wireless subscriber using postpaid services, you have the right:

  • to cancel your contract at no cost after a maximum of two years
  • to cancel your contract and return your phone at no cost, within 15 days and specific usage limits, if you are unhappy with your service
  • to have your phone unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if you paid in full for your phone
  • to have your service suspended at no cost if your phone is lost or stolen
  • to receive a Critical Information Summary, which explains your contract in under two pages
  • to receive a notification when you are roaming in a different country, telling you what the rates are for voice services, text messages, and data usage
  • to limit your data overage charges to $50 a month and your data roaming charges to $100 a month
  • to pay no extra charges for a service described as “unlimited”
  • to refuse a change to the key terms and conditions of your contract, including the services in your contract, the price for those services, and the duration of your contract

Clear, easy to understand contracts 

  • use in plain language and clearly describe the services you will receive
  • include information on when and why you may be charged extra

If you use prepaid services, you have the right

  • to cancel your contract at no cost after a maximum of two years
  • to cancel your contract and return your phone at no cost, within 15 days and specific usage limits, if you are unhappy with your service
  • to have your phone unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if you paid in full for your phone
  • to have your service suspended at no cost if your phone is lost or stolen
  • to receive a notification when you are roaming in a different country, telling you what the rates are for voice services, text messages, and data usage
  • to a minimum seven-day grace period in order to “top up” your prepaid card account and retain your balance

The Code appears to be the first step of governmental intervention in the mobile market. Next could be the regulation of domestic roaming costs, a field the CRTC is currently exploring. It remains to be seen what steps Ottawa will take to make the mobile market more competitive, as promised.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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