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Nowak: It’s time to ban phone unlocking fees

For the past month we've been asking you to share your Cell Phone Horror Stories to tell decision-makers at the CRTC what steps to take in fixing our broken telecom market. Today is the last day to submit your comments before we'll be sending them along to the CRTC. If you haven't already, share your story and help create a new wireless code for Canadians at! Article by Pete Nowak Good news if you’re an iPhone owner with Bell or Virgin – the carriers will reportedly unlock that bad boy for you. Of course, with this being the Canadian cellphone industry, there are many caveats to go with that. One is, you have to own the phone outright, two is that you can’t be on contract and three is that you can’t be a prepaid customer. Oh, and it’ll cost you the tidy sum of $75. Bell and its subsidiary are finally joining its Big Three cohorts, Rogers and Telus, in offering the “service,” although the company looks to be alone in charging such a hefty fee. Telus recently cut the cost of its iPhone unlock to $35 from $50, which is what Rogers still charges.

Why is Bell’s fee higher? Hey, buying sports teams and broadcasters doesn’t pay for itself, y’know?

All three carriers began offering unlock services on other devices some time ago, after politicians starting making noises like private members’ bills that would prohibit locking in the first place. The iPhone and its hefty cost, meanwhile, has evidently been a special case till now.

As the $75 fee attests to, it’s time for politicians and regulators to go further. There is simply no reason why carriers should charge subscribers anything for unlocking devices they’ve already paid for. It’s a blatant anti-competitive fee designed to discourage customers from switching carriers, or to ding them one final time when they do. Read more »


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