Among the Group of Seven (G7) nations -- which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States -- Canada happens to have the most expensive mobile rates. On top of that, users based in the Great Big North often have to pay at least $50 to have their mobile devices unlocked when they decide to switch to another network.
But the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which regulates the wireless industry in the country, is now requiring all mobile operators to unlock handsets, free of charge. Moreover, the regulating body has mandated that from now on, all new smartphone devices must be sold unlocked in the Canadian mobile market.
So how did this came to be? Well, the CRTC made a wise move in asking for feedback from Canadian mobile users with regards to the subject of unlocking fees. Naturally, users never thought twice about airing their sentiments when it comes to unlocking fees, and it goes without saying that the CRTC has heeded their calls.
According to a report recently published by CBC, telecommunications service providers in Canada generated revenues of $37.7 million CAD (that is equivalent to $28.5 million in the United States) out of unlocking fees. That amount represents a whopping increase of 75 percent compared to three years ago.
Obviously, mobile operators in Canada were not too happy with the CRTC’s ruling. Howard Slawner, the vice president of Rogers Communications, has suggested that a better idea may be to actually have consumers shoulder the expenses of unlocking their mobile devices. But it bears noting, however, that the wireless carriers themselves are the ones doing the locking of handsets. For good measure, the CRTC has also moved to ban locking mobile phones.
Under a new federal administration, the CRTC appears to be leaning more towards supporting consumers, and the last few months have seen the agency welcome more consumer friendly Internet laws. For instance, not too long ago, the body has ruled against a free music zero rating offering from Canadian mobile operator Videotron, which is being opposed by supporters of net neutrality rules. But instead of establishing rigid regulations, the CRTC has instead worked on building a framework, and then making its decisions on a case by case basis.
Of course, it is a different story in the United States. Under the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai (appointed when Donald Trump became President), the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is actually working to reverse its stand on the consumer friendly net neutrality rules established by former Chair Tom Wheeler under former President Barack Obama’s administration.
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