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Canada Businesses Communications The Almighty Buck

CRTC Bans Locked Phones and Carrier Unlocking Fees (mobilesyrup.com) 94

An anonymous reader shares a report: Canada's telecom regulator has announced that as of December 1st, 2017, all individual and small business wireless consumers will have the right to have their mobile devices unlocked free of charge upon request, while all newly purchased devices must be provided unlocked from that day forward. The decision came following the February 2017 review of the Wireless Code, where unlocking fees took center stage, with some parties (like Freedom Mobile) advocating for the abolishing of those fees altogether, some arguing they should remain as an important theft deterrent and the CRTC suggesting the fee should be far under the current $50 CAD standard. "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," said Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the CRTC, in a press release.
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CRTC Bans Locked Phones and Carrier Unlocking Fees

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  • Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by c ( 8461 ) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Thursday June 15, 2017 @11:46AM (#54625955)

    I can't wait to see how the carriers manage to interpret this rule in the most customer-hostile way possible. Maybe they'll create a special "speaking to phone unlocking agent" fee.

    • Activation fees : +50$

    • I can't wait to see how the carriers manage to interpret this rule in the most customer-hostile way possible. Maybe they'll create a special "speaking to phone unlocking agent" fee.

      Last time I had a landline phone bill it still included some ridiculous amount for touch tone fees. In that spirit, it seems like Canadian telecoms can easily make up for this rule by charging extra for you to use an unlocked phone on their network.

  • by nightfire-unique ( 253895 ) on Thursday June 15, 2017 @11:59AM (#54626079)

    Thank you, CRTC. This ruling was long overdue!

  • Honestly, This is the best reason why you cant let businesses go along without regulation.
    If companies do asshole things like locking a phone, then they deserve industry wide regulation and fines.

    So many people wail about "regulation is killing business" No assholes that run companies are killing business.

    Say no to assholes in management positions

    • by green1 ( 322787 ) on Thursday June 15, 2017 @12:45PM (#54626469)

      This is one of those places where government regulation made sense.

      Although all the carriers locked their phones, and it was obvious that customers didn't want it, no single carrier dared unlock without the rest of the industry following suit. Although one company could possibly use it as a selling point to try to attract customers, in reality it would be a competitive disadvantage.
      You can imagine if only one company offered unlocked phones, their customers would be free to leave for the competition, but the competitors customers would not be free to do the reverse.

      The free market can in fact sort out many things, but this just isn't one of them. (that, and the whole definition of a "free" market in such a heavily regulated space)

      • People keep their phones for only a few years. If one telco offered free unlocked phones, the others would see maybe 1/3 of their customers potentially leaving. All it took was for one to take the step - but none did because it was a cash cow.
        • by green1 ( 322787 )

          And yet 100% of that carrier's customers would be able to leave, and only 1/3 of the competitor's customers could move to them. Severe disadvantage. But if everyone does it, the playing field stays level.

          • Why would you want to move to a lock-in situation if everything else stays the same?
            • by green1 ( 322787 )

              Because most customers don't even think about that, And instead look at the gift with purchase, or $0.10/month cheaper, or they simply thought the salesperson was cute....

        • People keep their phones for only a few years.

          That's a relatively recent phenomenon. And I doubt it's here to stay. We're going to be entering the era of "good enough" soon, and most people won't have much desire to be on the upgrade treadmill anymore.

          • Relatively recent? Only about as recent as feature phones, which have been along longer than smart phones. Before that, who cares - the market for brick phones was really limited in comparison, so it's a case of apples-oranges.

            Phones wear out. The get dropped in toilets and sinks and bathtubs. They get stolen. Batteries fail to hold a charge as long as when new. Screens get cracked, and in many cases the person will buy a newer phone with more features than pay for a new battery or a new screen, specifical

            • Feature phones were all junk before they had to compete with smartphones and I never liked or used the extra features.

              If I had all the computing power I needed in a phone and bloat slowed, then I could reasonably go 5-6 years on the same phone. If I have to replace the battery after 2-3 years, that's minor surgery but still cheap. There are still phones out there that make it easier still.

              Phones wear out. The get dropped in toilets and sinks and bathtubs. They get stolen. Screens get cracked.

              I don't think that's universal. I've never cracked a phone screen and I've only flushed 1 phone down a toilet in near

              • The first smartphones were crap too. And the "If I had all the computing power I needed in a phone and bloat slowed, then I could reasonably go 5-6 years on the same phone." is the same argument as "if my dead grandma had wheels she'd be a car."

    • No, this situation arose because the government regulates the airwaves, thereby limiting the number of companies which can compete in the cellular market. With few competitors, it's very easy for them to coincidentally decide to lock their phones.

      In an unregulated market with multiple carriers, chances are high at least one carrier would offer unlocked devices. Customers would flock to that carrier, forcing the other carriers to also unlock their devices. A company doing an asshole thing like locking
      • No, this situation arose because the government regulates the airwaves, thereby limiting the number of companies which can compete in the cellular market. With few competitors, it's very easy for them to coincidentally decide to lock their phones.

        Power abhors competition. It doesn't matter what form this power takes. When you have strong government, government gets blamed. Where you lack strong government, factional violence gets blamed.

        There's a principle in computer science that you can solve any probl

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KGIII ( 973947 )

      I'd also like to see the boot loader unlocked. This just means you're not tied to a specific carrier. Having the boot loader unlocked would mean you could actually own the hardware - instead of purchasing the hardware and licensing the software.

    • by Shatrat ( 855151 )

      This is a terrible example. If you get a subsidized phone, expect it to be carrier locked. If you buy a car with a loan, expect a lien. The option to pay for either with cash has always existed, so don't moan about a deal you voluntarily chose.
      If you want a real example of where regulation is neede, look at large high rise apartments without fire alarms.

  • Funny that Freedom Mobile says that they are against unlock fees. When I got a new phone about a month back, they told me there would be a fee to unlock the phone. Likely they don't want other carriers to charge to unlock their phones to make it easier for customers to switch to their system. However, they are doing the exact same thing.

    The whole reason there are locks in the first place is that the cell phone is usually paid for as part of the monthly bill. Putting a lock on it gives some assurance that

    • by dskoll ( 99328 )

      In ancient times when Freedom Mobile was called Wind Mobile, they'd actually unlock your phone for free once you'd been with them for a certain period of time (a year, I think.)

      They stopped doing that a while back and added the $50 unlocking fee. But I don't think they ever really wanted it that badly and they're willing to look good and make Rogers, Bell and Telus look bad.

      The only ones who will suffer from this are those phone-unlocking services in malls and online. Well, too bad for them I guess.

  • Worth noting is that this decision has come down on the last working day of CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais. What a great parting gift to the carriers after all their years of extorting every possible dollar from Canadians.

    Fare thee well, JP Blais, and thanks for the solid!

    I'm glad to live close to the U.S. border so that I can use Roam Mobility as needed to get around the hideous roaming fees charged by the Canadian carriers.

  • I love this country, I honestly feel protected by my government. Its a good feeling, and its not the weed. :)
  • In what way is a locked phone a theft deterrent? Other than reducing it's potential resale value, which a thief won't find out until it is stolen?

  • If trade is really free, does this mean I can order a Canadian phone from anywhere in North America, including the USA? I'm guessing not... because some animals are more free than others.

  • Or is mobilesyrup.com somehow supposed to be an official spokesperson for the CRTC?

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