If you’ve ever looked at your monthly cellphone bill and wondered where those extra charges came from, you’re not alone. Maybe it was going over your SMS limit, or call minutes. Increasingly, the culprit is data. As our mobile devices get more data hungry, and mobile providers offer less of that precious cell sustenance, we’ve got to throttle ourselves.
In Canada, there is new wireless code, issued by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, allowing customers to have a $50/month overage limit. That would stem the threat of a massive cell phone bill, but the new code doesn’t stop there. The full breadth of changes afforded to customers are:
- Terminate their wireless contracts after two years without cancellation fees, even if they have signed on for a longer term
- Cap extra data charges at $50/month and international data roaming charges at $100/month to prevent bill shock
- Have their cellphones unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if they paid for the device in full
- Return their cellphones, within 15 days and specific usage limits, if they are unhappy with their service
- Accept or decline changes to the key terms of a fixed-term contract (i.e., 2-year), and
- Receive a contract that is easy to read and understand.
Canadian customers are, unfortunately, still routinely saddled with three-year contracts. The ability to terminate freely after two years, or return a device within 15 days, brings them more in line with our methodology, which we’d be smart to reciprocate. The language about easy to read contracts is nice (though I still suggest prepaid), and the data caps are a stroke of genius. Let’s hope to see these two things adopted by US carriers, but not hold our breath for it.