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Michael Geist's Blog

Canadian Telcos Change Tune Over Implementation of CRTC's Consumer Wireless Code With Lawsuit Threat

The CRTC released its consumer wireless code last month, receiving kudos for new measures that should eliminate three-year contracts. Now the major telecom companies are preparing a lawsuit challenging the rules associated with the implementation of the code. While the code will take effect for any new, renewed, or changed contracts starting on December 2, 2013, the CRTC has stated that all consumers should benefit from the code by June 3, 2015 or two years after its initial release. The telcos object to this position, arguing that it retroactively applies new conditions to contracts that existed prior to the start date of the code. According to an affidavit from SaskTel, the major concern involves the potential for consumers on three-year contracts to walk away from those contracts in June 2015 without further payment, despite terms that could run months longer.

Yet during the wireless hearing, some telcos assured the CRTC that customers would benefit from the code within two years. For example, SaskTel told the Commission that its customers now upgrade their devices (and thus would fall under the code) roughly a year and a half after signing the initial contract:

Customers are turning over their devices in the second to third year. We have introduced an early device upgrade program in October of last year which gives customers the ability to upgrade their device at any time. Since we have implemented that program we've seen customers upgrading after about 17.5 months.


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