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Ontario Private Member’s Bill Demands Wireless Transparency, Unlocking Phones

A new Ontario Private Member’s bill introduced by MPP David Orazietti focused on wireless services would establish new transparency requirements and mandate unlocking cellphones upon contract expiry.  The key provisions of Bill 133 include:

  • a long list of disclosure requirements related to the costs associated with service plans, advertisements, roaming charges, or when consumers are nearing their monthly cap
  • a requirement to unlock devices if consumers pay full price or once the contract expires.  The provision states that a service provider must “remove, free of charge after the agreement expires, any technological or physical feature that restricts the functioning of the goods to a service provided by the supplier or another particular service provider.”
  • no amendments to contracts without express consumer consent
  • the right to cancel a service contract with 30 days notice.  Consumers are subject to a maximum liability of one month service fee.  If the consumer obtained a discounted phone, there is a formula for repaying the remaining benefits.

The bill comes as the new wireless entrants complain about “anti-consumer” practices by the incumbent carriers.

21 Comments

  1. What is the division of powers?
    Do telecoms companies fall under federal or provincial jurisdiction? If the former, then what is the point of this bill?

  2. I think the telco’s are federally regulated (CRTC?)

  3. Businesses who want to operate in Ontario still have to follow Ontario law. This would just add extra regulations on to what they can and can’t do here.


  4. CRTC regulates inside existing laws.

    Parliament can override CRTC’s existing regulations with a new law, to which they have to comply.

    Nap.

  5. @Chris A
    Agreed, however as an example Ontario’s Employment Standards Act does not apply to banks, telcos, railways or airlines (or federal civil servants) as they are federally regulated and would may conflict with the federal legislation. I am wondering if there is an equivalent federal statute to this bill.

  6. Michael Geist says:

    Fed vs. Prov
    This is consumer protection legislation, which is a provincial matter. Quebec has similar legislation already in place.

    MG

  7. contracts ๐Ÿ˜ก
    “the right to cancel a service contract with 30 days notice. Consumers are subject to a maximum liability of one month service fee. If the consumer obtained a discounted phone, there is a formula for repaying the remaining benefits.”

    What we really need is mandatory decoupling of the lease on the cell phone and the service itself. It really grinds my gears that even if I’m not taking the subsidy (by continuing to use an out of contract device, or on a prepay plan, etc.), I’m still paying it.

    Still, nice if they can get it through.

  8. Cable companies this also
    We got railroaded into a 2 year contract for HDTV with Rogers and then said it would be cheaper if we did…1 month later they informed us that the sales person made a mistake and discounted too much which added another I think 9.99 to the bill. Then a month later they said all the TV channels we watched in HD were moved to a executive VIP platinum Gold member who has been a loyal customer for years plan which would cost us another $9.99. So adding a purchased PVR to our account that we paid outright for ended up costing us 20 bucks more a month and we are stuck with 2 years more service or pay some stupid disconnect fee for each month of the remainder of our agreement. We are almost set to go cable free, who needs cable when you can watch the shows online for free or at least the cost of the bandwidth you use…

  9. Yes
    Yes! Please! I’ve had enough with the big bad telecom companies bullying customers just because they can.

  10. Interesting development
    Interesting:

    http://www.osnews.com/story/24052/European_Carriers_Threaten_Apple_Over_Built-in_SIM_Card_Option

    Not necessarily that becoming locked to Apple would be any better than being locked to Bell. But at least you’ll have a choice ๐Ÿ™‚

    Nap.

    P.S. Interesting captcha: “exhaustive rape” ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Just signed up for 1 month demo of Netflix.
    By by Cable bill and movie rental bill….
    $7.99 a monthwith NetFlix compared to $80+ for cable bill and >$50 for movie rentals a month….

    That sounds too good to be true….
    $8 compared to $130…am I missing something?

  12. @CndCitizen

    I signed up for a VPN account ($15/mo) to do some server testing last week. Some how I ended up on Hulu and since the VPN IP is from the States I got access to Hulu. WOW are we getting shafted in Canada.


  13. @CndCitizen: “$8 compared to $130…am I missing something?”

    Yes, the internet bill you’ll receive from your ISP. Especially when you’ll go past your monthly cap.

    Nap.


  14. BTW Sasktel doesn’t have internet caps.

    Maybe Ontario and Quebec should follow the model.

    Nap.

  15. Impressive! P.S. to Napalm, SaskTel,
    I’m thoroughly impressed by this bill. Nice work.

    P.S. Napalm,

    Unlimited data on Sasktel’s plan is relatively new, no? I just saw Little Red Riding Hood’s new ad on TV for this. What they say on their website is “Unlimited Web, E-mail & Instant Messaging”. I don’t know if that wording is to “dumb the tech down for grandma”, or if it’s to allow for backtracking when the subscribers start to crush the networks with FaceTime. We’ll see.

  16. @Nap
    “Yes, the internet bill you’ll receive from your ISP. Especially when you’ll go past your monthly cap.”

    I already exceed the monthly cap and pay the $25 dollar max for unlimited having a family on you tube and facebook all the time…you get the point. They should just sell unlimited data plans because with a $25 cap, you are still only paying $33 for now TV and Movies through netflix instead of $130.

  17. S Halayka said:

    “Unlimited Web, E-mail & Instant Messaging”. I don’t know if that wording is to “dumb the tech down for grandma”, or if it’s to allow for backtracking when the subscribers start to crush the networks with FaceTime. We’ll see.

    Ahh still the old late 90’s catch words. Unlimited web meant unlimited access to the web, which is not the same as unlimited data/bandwidth usage.

  18. Taxpayer Citizen
    If we really want to keep “government’s” hands off the internet then we must contact our providers and tell them they are to go to Ottawa and bring this to an end. Because if they do not, then “we” will set a date to start a boycott and have “them” come and remove “their” hardwear from our property. ( WE ARE THE CONSUMER and WITHOUT US …THEY ARE BROKE.

    The out come of us disconecting from the internet will bankrupt these providers, imagine the havoc we will create …do they really want to lose our business? If not , then they better warn “government” to keep their nosey little hands out of their private business.

    Yes I enjoy the internet…but if it were to die tomorrow, I am sure I would get over it, wouldn’t you? The key to ending this rest with us..the “CONSUMER”.

    Wayne Coady Cole harbour Nova Scotia

  19. CRTC Needs more BITE!
    An interesting bill, but the real immediate need is the bill shock law. In EU countries, the maximum “bill shock” is 50Euros unless the operator notifies the subscriber. A simple bill should be in place to prevent bill shock. Keep the bill simple and push it through. Maybe our un-elected senators won’t block this one!

  20. Don Watson says:

    Cell phone subscriber.
    Literature provided by the cell phone companies does not indicate that the product has an “unlock” code to access other frequencies. One suspects that when one purchases a cell phone at full price, the unit would come with all the relevent data from either the manufacturer or the service provider. I wonder if consumers would allow auto manufactures to have an “unlock” code built into their automobiles so only the dealership could provide automotive service. I think not. The manufacturers or service providers, in my opinion, have committed a fraud of great magnitude on the public. Why are those responsible for defrauding the public not being prosecuted under the criminal code?

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