CRTC releases a draft of the “Wireless Code”

Late last year the CRTC started the discussion of creating a “national code for wireless services.” This code, with the assistance of input from Canadians, potentially would have wireless contracts be easier to understand, simple language of what’s involved with terminating your account, offering unlocked devices, plus possible banishment of the 3-year contacts.

The number of wireless subscribers in Canada is approximately 28 million. Over the past couple months the CRTC invited Canadians to have their say and a total of 3,500 comments were received in writing and another 600 comments were submitted via their online discussion forum. After reviewing all the comments, the CRTC published a working document on the proposed code today. In their press release they highlighted a number possible features, some already exist, but missing is the end of the long term contracts.

The CRTC stated that Canadians want:
– A clearer understanding of their wireless services and fees.
– The ability to unlock cellphones on reasonable terms.
– Online tools to monitor usage and any additional fees.
– The ability to set a cap on additional fees, such as those incurred from long-distance calls, usage of voice minutes, text messages, data usage and roaming.

There are some interesting notes and seems to be some work ahead to bring this to life. There’s still a pondering issue of who the code is for, all wireless subscribers or different standards for pay-as-you-go and pay-in-advance customers. Here’s some takeaways:

– “The Wireless Code will be administered by the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (“CCTS”) and enforced by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (“CRTC”).”

– “Any advertisement that is incorporated by reference into a contract will include the total amount the consumer must pay for the services on a monthly recurring basis. The advertised price must indicate whether it includes sales tax and government-mandated fees.”

– “Service providers that offer “unlimited” plans must explain at the time of sale and in the personalized information summary whether there are limits to the “unlimited” plan and whether the service provider retains the discretion to move the consumer to a “limited” plan if these usage limits are exceeded. Service providers must also explicitly explain, in their fair use policies, the amount of use that will trigger the application of the policy.”

– “Where the service provider has provided a locked wireless device to a consumer, it must provide the consumer with the means to unlock the device after no more than 30 days of service, at the rate specified in the contract and personalized information summary.”

Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC, stated that “The draft code is still very much a work in progress and intended to encourage more discussion.” They are opening the online discussion once again and want your feedback on the Wireless Code.”

Check it out here at the CRTC.

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