The CRTC’s introduction of a consumer wireless code earlier this month, which notably includes the right to terminate wireless contracts after two years, is expected to put an end to three-year wireless contracts in Canada. The code does not take effect until December 2, 2013, but the CRTC has now indicated that it anticipates that wireless carriers will transition to two-year contracts before that date.
In a letter to the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association this week, the Commission responded to questions about the applicability of the code to contracts that pre-date the December 2nd date. The letter included the following statement in discussing a hypothetical scenario involving a three-year contract signed in October 2013:
Carriers are free to implement any part or parts of the Code prior to the 2 December 2013 implementation date. It would be surprising that in October of 2013 a customer would be offered a plan with a device subsidy with a 36 month term as that would be contrary to the spirit of the Code and the development of a more dynamic marketplace.
In other words, the code may only take effect in December, but the CRTC anticipates carriers will adjust to its “spirit” much sooner.
It should also become a question of competing in the marketplace at some point before the end of the year. The incentive to keep signing up customers to 36 month terms while they still can will probably fade pretty quickly once any of the big three start to offer 24 month contracts. It is, of course, possible that they will wait until the last possible moment before changing their rules. Time will tell.
For what it’s worth, the upcoming changes strike me as fairly timid and unlikely to make much of a difference even though they are a modest improvement over the status quo.
It’s been a while but last time I looked…
all the major carriers had options for month-to-month, annual, 2-year, and 3-year plans. Apparently that’s no longer the case (I just checked all 3). I guess the 2 year plan will be coming back and the subsidy will get smaller.
Telus has been offering 2-year contracts on a few phones since the beginning of the year. They even had 1 year terms on there old CDMA phones just to clear out stock.