CRTC Bans Cell Phone Unlocking Fees

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission banned cellular providers from charging fees for cell phone unlocking and also said new mobile phones must be given to customers already unlocked.

Many tech experts applauded the move and said it was a good way to spark more competition among cell phone providers. Telecom companies would previous charge around $50 to unlock a phone if a customer wanted to switch providers.

Getting rid of the unlocking fees means more flexibility and options to consumers apart from the freedom to switch providers easily. A locked phone would keep customers attached to their service provider since choosing another telecom provider could prove expensive and tedious.

The move comes in the wake of many customers complaining to the CRTC about how they were being ‘held ransom’ by telecom companies even though they owned their phones but had to pay fees for cell phone unlocking to choose another provider.

The CRTC is a public organization in Canada with mandate as a regulatory agency for broadcasting and telecommunications. It was created in 1976 when it took over responsibility for regulating telecommunication carriers and looks into matters of customer protection.

Telecom companies have said in the past that charging customers to unlock their phones was the only way the cost could be prevented from being passed to everyone. However revenues made from charging customers to unlock their phones are high and Canadian telecoms reported an income of around $37.7 million just from the unlocking charges.

Canadian telecom companies refused to comment on the cell phone unlocking decision and said they were still reviewing it.

Similarly the CRTC also stated that only the cell phone account holder could consent to charges like extra data usage and roaming charges in a family plan. This decision came in the wake of complaints that children and other family members were using additional data without informing the account holder and running up huge fees which they could not pay. This decision is aimed at preventing minors from ordering additional data usage with their phones.