CRTC bans cellphone unlocking fees


CRTC bans cellphone unlocking fees and orders all new devices to be unlocked

The era of having to pay cellular providers to unlock your cellphone will end this year.

As of Dec. 1, cellphone customers can ask their provider to unlock their phones free of charge, the CRTC announced June 15, 2017. At the same time, it said, all newly purchased mobile devices must be provided to customers unlocked.

Telecoms often order locked phones from manufacturers that are programmed to work only with their service. Then they charge a fee — typically $50 — to unlock the phone if a customer wants to switch providers.

In March, the CRTC reported that Canadian telecoms made a total of $37.7 million last year by charging customers to unlock their cellphones — a 75 per cent jump in that source of revenue compared with 2014.

During a February CRTC hearing, Bell, Rogers and Telus all stood by their unlocking fees.

The big three warned that if they didn’t charge an unlocking fee for the few customers who want it done, the cost would have to be passed on to everyone.

Canada’s main telecoms wouldn’t comment on the CRTC’s decision to ban unlocking fees, stating they’re still reviewing the new mandate.

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