The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission’s (the “CRTC”) highly anticipated Wireless Code came into force on December 2, 2013.  The Code, which applies to all new retail mobile wireless voice and data services contracts signed as of December 2, 2013, as well as to existing contracts that are renewed or extended or where the key terms are amended as of its coming into force date, has been hailed by Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC, as “the beginning of a more dynamic marketplace for wireless services”.

The most notable provisions of the Code include allowing individuals and small business consumers to:

  • Limit data charges in excess of the usage defined in their plans to $50/month;
  • Terminate their wireless contracts after two years without cancellation fees or penalties;
  • Limit national and international data roaming charges in excess of the usage limits defined in their plans to $100/month;
  • Have their cell phone unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if they paid for the cell phone in full;
  • Return their cell phone, within 15 days and specified usage limits, if they are unhappy with their service;
  • Accept or decline changes to the key terms of a fixed-term (i.e. 2 year) contract; and
  • Receive a contract that uses plain language and is easy to read and understand.

The Wireless Code, which establishes a mandatory and more consumer-friendly code of conduct for the wireless services industry, will make it easier for consumers to obtain and understand the information in their wireless service contracts and prevent bill shock.

Please note that a Motion for leave to appeal certain provisions of the Wireless Code has been filed with the Federal Court of Appeal.