June 15, 2017 / 3:47 PM / 2 years ago

Canada telecom regulator to ban unlocking fees for phones

A student uses his mobile phone as he walks in Waterloo April 18, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s telecom regulator will later this year require mobile phone providers to sell only unlocked devices to new customers and will also ban the charging of fees for existing customers looking to leave, it said on Thursday.

In an update to its 2013 Wireless Code, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said that from Dec. 1 all new mobile devices must be sold unlocked and that existing individual and small business wireless customers will have the right to have their devices unlocked free of charge upon request.

“The changes and clarifications we are announcing today will give Canadians additional tools to make informed choices about their wireless services and take advantage of competitive offers in the marketplace,” said CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais.

Blais, whose term expires on Saturday, earlier this week said his as-yet unnamed replacement may have to intervene in wireless markets to stoke competition.

The update also said that customers unhappy with a new device purchase will be able to cancel their contract within 15 days and return the device in near-new condition without penalty, unless they have used more than their monthly usage limit.

Canada’s wireless market is dominated by three major players: Rogers Communications Inc, Telus Corp, and BCE Inc’s Bell Mobility.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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