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Canada introduces telecoms code

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Canada’s telecoms regulator the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has issued a code of conduct for mobile operators in a bid to make it easier for subscribers to understand their contracts and their basic rights.

The code will apply to new contracts for smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices starting on December 2, 2013.

The CRTC recently undertook a public consultation, attracting over 5,000 participants. The code addresses the main frustrations that Canadians shared with the CRTC, the regulator said. These included the length of contracts, cancellation fees, roaming charges and other industry practices.

As a result, the CRTC’s code will enable consumers to terminate their wireless contracts after two years without cancellation fees, even if they have signed on for a longer term contracts; cap extra data charges at $50 per month and international data roaming charges at $100 per month; and have their smartphones unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if they paid for the device in full.

In addition, consumers will be able to return their smartphones within 15 days and specific usage limits if they are unhappy with their service; accept or decline changes to the key terms of a fixed-term contract and they will receive a contract that is “easy to read and understand”.

The code will apply to all service providers in Canada.

“Every day, Canadians rely on wireless devices while in their homes, at their jobs, at school or travelling abroad,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the CRTC. “The wireless code will contribute to a more dynamic marketplace by making it possible for Canadians to discuss their needs with service providers at least every two years.”

“The wireless code is a tool that will empower consumers and help them make informed choices about the service options that best meet their needs. To make the most of this tool, consumers also have a responsibility to educate themselves,” he added.

In April this year, three of Canada’s smaller operators announced their withdrawal from industry body the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA). Wind Mobile, Public Mobile and Mobilicity voiced their mounting frustration with the CWTA’s “consistent bias” in favour of Rogers, Bell and Telus on a wide variety of issues.

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