The New Wireless Code and How It Affects Your Cell Phone Bills

A new wireless code came into existence this December. The new wireless code comes with new regulations, all phones must be sold unlocked and companies can no longer charge unlocking fees.

The code was updated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission earlier this year but it gave providers time till December for implementation.

While consumer groups waited for the code to be implemented, major telecom players appealed against the code and requested for an industry wide extension on the deadline. Parents will also be spared from receiving a huge cell phone bill they did not anticipate since the code also deals with account holder permission for extra data usage.

Changed to data charges

According to the code, Children and teenagers cannot consent to extra data charges and all extra data charges can only be made with prior permission. Data and roaming overage fees are capped at $50 and $100 per month per account, and for any extra usage the account holder must give permission.

Data charges cannot be calculated based on the number of devices a family uses but is rather based on each account held. Major providers Telus and Rogers said these bill management rules are complex and too challenging to implement on time.

End to Unlocking

Unlocking fees was another hurdle the telecom companies sought to negotiate. According to data available online, providers earned nearly $38 million from unlocking fees in 2016. These fees can no longer exist under the new regulations since all devices can be used on all networks.

While the CRTC didn’t say what penalties would be imposed if the code is not implemented on time, there seems to be no doubt that wireless providers are taking the matter seriously. Customers who feel their provider is breaching the new wireless code can complain to the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS)

Trial period for phone contracts

The CRTC has also introduced a trial period for mobile phone contracts. Customers can cancel their service if they are not happy with the provider and if they haven’t used more than 50 percent of their monthly usage limit and if the phone is new condition. Customers have a period of 15 days to make the cancellation.

Customers should keep a close eye on their bills for the next few months. If the billings systems aren’t updated and extra charges go through, the CCTS will help consumers resolve the problem, John Lawford, executive director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre said.

Similarly customers should take advantage of the new unlocking rules while remaining patient since there may be a rush, experts said. Looks like knowing your rights can help you have a lower cell phone bill.