Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A wireless code

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The gig is up for Canada's wireless industry.

After years of complaints about price gouging, inflexible contracts, locked phones and unreasonable termination fees, the federal broadcast regulator (the CRTC) is set to develop a new national code that will result in more flexible pricing and terms of use.

During five days of hearings that ended Friday, the major wireless firms defended most of their practices and claimed if customers truly wanted such things as shorter-term contracts, the industry would have responded already. But as polls and surveys have repeatedly shown, the industry was not listening. So now the government will step in to ensure fairness across the board.

The Big 3 providers in Canada -- Rogers, Bell and Telus -- dominate more than 90 per cent of the market, a situation that opened the door to market abuse.

A draft wireless code issued by the CRTC suggests the agency is considering changes that would provide clear limits on contract terms, a monthly cap on extra fees and possibly the ability to unlock a cellphone when travelling or when seeking better terms with another firm.

A clear, fair code of conduct with penalties for violations is needed in a world where cellphones and other mobile devices have become indispensable for both families and businesses.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 19, 2013 A10

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