CRTC Clarifies that the Wireless Code only gives current customers the right to have devices unlocked
PIAC requested clarification that this right extends to former customers and purchasers of second-hand devices
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) petitioned the CRTC for clarification of the device unlocking rules that are part of the Wireless Code. The ambiguity PIAC pointed to had to do with prior customers of telcos. In particular, they said:
11. PIAC asked the Commission to clarify Rule F.1.(ii) of the Wireless Code such that all devices purchased prior to 1 December 2017 that are locked to a given WSP’s network should be unlocked upon request and at no cost, regardless of whether the device owner currently has, previously had, or never had an active account with the WSP (hereafter, PIAC’s proposed clarification).
12. In PIAC’s view, the Wireless Code may be ambiguous in terms of who the device unlocking rules are intended to benefit. The Preamble to the Wireless Code states that any ambiguity is to be resolved in favour of customers. PIAC argued that this ambiguity should be resolved to clarify that a person does not need to have an ongoing service contract to have their device unlocked free of charge.
The Code defines customers to be “Individuals or small businesses subscribing to wireless services, including account holders, device users, and authorized users.” The obligation to unlock devices relates to “customers” and the preamble of the Code says that any ambiguity is to be interpreted in favour of the “customer”.
The CRTC, in Telecom Decision CRTC 2019-169, declined to “clarify” or otherwise change the Code, noting that current customers have this right and former customers have other options available to them. Now that devices must be sold unlocked, the number of current or former customers who seek unlocking of devices is declining significantly.