Buy a smartphone from a wireless carrier in the United States, and there’s a pretty good chance that it’ll be locked to that carrier, making it difficult to switch from Verizon to AT&T, for example, while keeping the same phone.
The situation is pretty much the same in Canada… for now. But starting in December, Canada’s Radio Television and Communications Commission will require that all phone sold in the country will have to be unlocked when provided to customers. And if you want to unlock a phone purchased before December, carriers will have to let you do that for free starting on December 1st.
The move will make it much easier for customers to switch carriers without the need to buy a new phone or pay a penalty to unlock their existing device.
Of course, carriers still have other ways to lock you into a contract: the new CRTC rules will make it easier to take a device with you when you go, but you may still have to pay an early cancellation fee.
The CRTC also adopted a few other new rules, including one that allows customers who sign up for a new wireless service to cancel their contract as long as they do so within 15 days and return their device “in near-new condition,” having “used less than half their monthly usage limits.”
In other words, when you sign up for a new wireless contract, you’ve got 15 days to kick the tires to see if it meets your needs. If you’re not happy during that trial period, the carrier can’t charge you for canceling the contract.