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Canadian law would require phone unlocks after contracts

updated 11:15 am EST, Fri November 19, 2010

Bill 133 would require phone unlocks on contracts

A proposed new law in Canada could lead carriers and phone manufacturers to have a mandatory unlock in place under certain conditions. Bill 133 in the province of Ontario would require that carriers unlock a phone for free if users either pays full price for the device or their contract expires. Carriers would at the same time have to let customers end a contract in 30 days and could only make changes mid-contract with permission.

Providers would also have to detail the full cost of service up front, such as the generic fees sometimes added later as well as roaming rates. Cellphone users would have to be given an advance warning if they reach 90 percent of a monthly cap, such as for data, text messages or voice.

The bill, put forward by Member of Parliament David Orazietti, could potentially alter the landscape of cellphone service in Canada and would push many international phone makers to change their policies. Currently, most major cell carriers in the country aren't required to unlock a phone at all and can only sometimes perform it on request. Many will keep a phone locked even if bought at full price.

A handful of newer and smaller carriers, most notably Wind Mobile, willingly sell unlocked phones in the country.

Apple would also have to enable a rare post-sale unlock that it hasn't had to use since first-generation German iPhones. It already sells unlocked iPhones directly in Canada, but anyone buying a locked phone so far is limited to that carrier without using an unofficial approach. [via Michael Geist]

by MacNN Staff



  1. MadGoat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    How would this affect 3yr contract

    How would this affect phones locked in a 3 year contract with annual upgrades? The phones are in limbo since you've renewed your contract with Rogers and haven't fulfilled all the terms of the original contract.

  1. bleee

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Go Canada!!!!!


    Joined: Dec 1969


    At Least They Get It

    Go Canada! I wish some our lawmakers would sit up notice this and force AT&T to unlock the Iphone after the contract is over.


  1. Tofino

    Joined: Dec 1969


    About time

    I bought my iPhone at full price from apple to avoid the usual 3 year contract in Canada, after have a really bad experience with Rogers with my last one. The new phone actually got unlocked by apple the first time you plug it into iTunes. The mechanism for unlocking phones 'officially' is therefore already in place. It's ridiculous to have your own hardware held hostage by the carriers after your contract is up.

    I do however expect that the carrier lobby is going to defeat this bill with the help of the CRTC.

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Good idea

    Let's hope this goes through. I wish they would abolish the bogus "system access fee" as well.

  1. Inkling

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Canada first, US Next

    Let's hope Canada leads the way for the U.S. on mandatory unlocking. There's no legitimate justification for keeping an iPhone locked after the contract that paid for it runs out. The law should also be retroactive, applying to all past-contract phones.

    I was able to unlock a second-hand Singular/AT&T cellphone because of a court settlement. All it took was a phone call to AT&T support and a few minutes to get the proper code. I'd be delighted if I could do the same with my iPhone 3G.

    Of course, Apple and AT&T should have voluntarily done this years ago, simply because it's the right thing to do. If more corporations acted for that reason, there'd be less reason for laws and regulations. There'd also be less reason for iPhone users to vent their rage at this policy by bad-mouthing AT&T service.

  1. ORI Sher

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Its funny... last week i was going to start a website asking for Robbers/Fido to Unlock our (any)device after the contract completion. We pay big money for so called "subsidized" phones.

    How do we show support to this bill, and FORCE the carriers to unlock our devices?

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Oh wow

    Now that is good news. A little less power to the Telco's and a little more to the consumer.

  1. leonpro

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    Definitely great news. If the phone is fully paid for via fulfilling the contract, the phones should be unlocked and at no cost.

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