Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) marked the coming into force of the regulator’s consumer ‘wireless code’ on 2 December with an announcement heralding ‘the beginning of a more dynamic marketplace for wireless services.’ The new rules enable individuals and small business owners to terminate mobile contracts with no cancellation fee after a maximum of two years, applicable to all new contracts signed as from 2 December and existing contracts that are renewed or extended, or where the key terms are amended, as of that same date, while the code will apply to all wireless contracts from 3 June 2015 regardless of when they were signed. The code also enforces guidelines to make contracts for cellphones and other mobile devices simpler to understand, as well as setting out end users’ basic rights. Under the code operators must now: limit data charges in excess of the usage defined in a package at CAD50 (USD47) per month; limit national and international data roaming charges in excess of the usage defined in a package at USD100 per month; allow cellphones to be unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if they are paid for upfront; and allow a user to return a cellphone within 15 days and specific usage limits if unhappy with a service. Furthermore, the code gives a user the right to accept or decline changes made by an operator to the key terms of a fixed-term (i.e. two-year) contract. The CRTC says the code addresses the main frustrations that Canadians shared during its public consultation, including the length of wireless contracts, cancellation fees and ‘bill shock’.
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