While we here in the United States continue to curse the shackles applied by carrier contracts and cast a wary eye toward politicians who promise relief, Canadians today are learning that suitably motivated government regulators can indeed make life fairer for wireless users.
A new "Wireless Code" released today by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, among other mandates, makes unlocking your phone your right, establishes caps on overage charges, limits contract early-cancellation fees to two years and nixes extra fees for anything described as "unlimited."
The new rules are pro-consumer and - perhaps most remarkably - they are written in unambiguous language that everyone should be able to understand. Here's the operative passage from a checklist:
Do you pay a bill after you use your wireless service? If so, you use postpaid services, and you have the right:
- To cancel your contract at no cost after a maximum of two years;
- To cancel your contract and return your phone at no cost, within 15 days and specific usage limits, if you are unhappy with your service;
- To have your phone unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if you paid in full for your phone;
- To have your service suspended at no cost if your phone is lost or stolen;
- To receive a Critical Information Summary, which explains your contract in under two pages;
- To receive a notification when you are roaming in a different country, telling you what the rates are for voice services, text messages, and data usage;
- To limit your data overage charges to $50 a month and your data roaming charges to $100 a month;
- To pay no extra charges for a service described as "unlimited;"
- To refuse a change to the key terms and conditions of your contract, including the services in your contract, the price for those services, and the duration of your contract.
Your contract must:
- Use in plain language and clearly describe the services you will receive;
- Include information on when and why you may be charged extra.
AT&T likes to assert in its adorable commercials that "it's not complicated."
It doesn't have to be.
Canada's new wireless code takes effect Dec. 2.
Welcome regulars and passersby. Here are a few more recent buzzblog items. And, if you’d like to receive Buzzblog via e-mail newsletter, here’s where to sign up. You can follow me on Twitter here and on Google+ here.
- Microsoft’s opening act since Windows 95: Weezer.
- Lawyer questions legal ethics of LinkedIn “endorsements”
- Ever done the Laptop Drive of Shame?
- Will entering your ATM PIN in reverse summon the police?
- EFF urges court: Stop porn-copyright ‘shakedowns’
- Nothing funny about how The Onion got hacked.
- Steve Jobs ordered Apple ads off Fox News.
- Florida’s identity-theft rate 3 times that of Calif., N.Y. and Mich.
- IT pro has a hair-raising hobby.
- Shopzilla sends a bottle to say sorry about trademark whine.
- How that “extra 9” could ward off a Zombie Apocalypse
- Yahoo buys teen’s startup for $30M, hires him … and WHAT?
- 2013’s 25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries
- Why business cards still beat “the bump.”