OTTAWA – Member of Parliament Bruce Hyer is pleased today that another wireless giant, Telus Mobility, has bowed to public pressure and decided to start unlocking customer cell phones starting February 15. “Until I authored Bill C-560, the Cell Phone Freedom Act, most Canadian wireless carriers wouldn’t unlock any of their own customers’ mobile phones.” said the Thunder Bay-Superior North MP. “These network locks, placed on every cell phone sold in Canada, meant that cell phone users couldn’t take their phone to use it on a competitor’s network if they were unhappy with the price they were paying or the service they were getting. Locks limit their choice – and artificially restrict competition in the market. That’s why I’m pleased that Telus has decided to follow Rogers and start unlocking their customer phones this month.”
In December, Rogers Communications reacted to a public campaign surrounding the Cell Phone Freedom Act by offering to unlock their customers’ wireless phones for a $50 fee. Telus followed today by saying it too would start unlocking phones for $50, after three months of service. The unlock offer does not apply to certain smartphones like the iPhone, however, which the two carriers maintain they will not unlock.
Together, Bell, Telus and Rogers control 96% of the Canadian wireless market. While the Telus policy change is a partial victory, New Democrats say much more is yet to be done.
“We’ve had an incredible response from Canadians across the country to the Cell Phone Freedom Act.” said Hyer “The big three wireless carriers have to sit up and take notice – as the recent protests on internet billing showed, Canadians aren’t going to tolerate unjustified fees and restrictions anymore. I’m calling on Bell, Telus and Rogers to unlock the full range of their customers phones, including iPhones, and stop charging consumers to unlock. Canadians should not have to pay to get the full use of phones they’ve already bought and paid for.”
A 2009 study by the 34-nation Organization for Co-operation and Development found that Canada had amongst the highest prices for mobile phone calling amongst all OECD countries, and reports by the Seaboard Group, a wireless industry consultancy, implicated high prices as the reason Canada had the second-lowest mobile phone usage rate in the developed world.