The era of having to pay cellular providers to unlock your cellphone will end this year.
As of Dec. 1, cellphone customers can ask their provider to unlock their phones free of charge, the CRTC announced Thursday. At the same time, it said, all newly purchased mobile devices must be provided to customers unlocked.
“It’s a big step forward,” said Rose Behar, senior reporter for the tech site MobileSyrup in Toronto.
Telecoms often order locked phones from manufacturers that are programmed to work only with their service. Then they charge a fee — typically $50 — to unlock the phone if a customer wants to switch providers.
“Essentially a locked phone did keep consumers tethered to their service provider,” because they faced paying a fee to flee, said Behar.
“Now there’s going to be so much more flexibility in being able to jump from plan to plan, from carrier to carrier. That will likely spark more competition.”