It looks like the CRTC has some good news for Canadians who want an easier time switching between wireless providers. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has ruled that Canadian wireless providers are no longer allowed to sell locked phones. They can only sell you unlocked devices.

As with all government regulation things, this ruling doesn’t go into effect immediately of course. It’s also important to note that the change will only affect individual and small business wireless consumers, so this likely means that corporate customers will again fall under a separate set of rules. You might remember when they banned three-year contracts, but corporate plans could still require a three-year agreement.

In effect, there are two main components to this CRTC announcement on unlocked phones.

  1. All newly purchased phones (and tablets and other wireless devices) must be unlocked from day one.
  2. All existing devices that are locked must be unlocked at no charge to the customer.

That second part is notable in that carriers currently charge somewhere around $50 to unlock your phone and only after you’ve met certain requirements. This way, you’ll have unlocked phones whether you actually bought them before or after the December 1 start date.

This change to the Wireless Code follows the review from February of this year. At the time, Freedom Mobile advocated for getting rid of unlocking fees. Others disagreed. I guess Freedom won.


“The changes made today will go a long way to ensuring Canadians know what their rights are when it comes to cell phone plans,” said OpenMedia digital rights advocate Katy Anderson, “and send a strong message to these companies that the CRTC intends to continue looking closely at the way they treat their customers.”

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