TORONTO — It’s all but certain that the Canadian telecom industry’s revised wireless code of conduct won’t be fully implemented before Christmas, including a change in the way customers are billed when data usage goes over their contract’s limit.
While the CRTC hasn’t ruled yet on a delay requested by Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX:RCI.B) due to the complexity of adjusting its IT system, the regulator has agreed to consider it quickly.
“Staff considers that a timely determination of the substantive issues raised in the application will assist with consumers’ ability to make informed decisions about their wireless services, a key objective of the wireless code,” Nanao Kachi, the CRTC’s director for social and consumer policy, wrote in a Nov. 10 letter to Rogers.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has also given the other wireless carriers to Friday to comment — opening the door to other requests from Rogers Communication’s intensely competitive rivals.
The CRTC had given the industry until Dec. 1 to make a number of changes to how they do business with consumers.
Among other things, the regulator announced in June that only the wireless account holder,not the device holder, on family or shared plans can consent to overage and roaming charges, unless others on the plan are expressly authorized to approve the costs.
The revised wireless code, which originally went into effect in 2013, would tie data caps for shared plans to single accounts, no matter how many devices are listed.
It also calls for the elimination of the carriers’ ability to charge customers for unlocking their devices, so they can work an a competitor’s network.
An emailed statement from Rogers on Tuesday said it will have “the vast majority” of required changes in place by Dec. 1, including elimination of its unlocking fees.
But the company added, “There are a few areas where we need some more time to put in place the technical and billing system changes, and the customer impact is very low.”
Meanwhile, the CRTC has asked other carriers to say whether they think Rogers should be required to notify all of its affected retail mobile wireless voice and data customers of the specific delays.
The CRTC also asks if Rogers should advise its customers how they’ll be credited for amounts charged in excess of the revised code’s caps until it fully implements the changes.
A statement from Telus Corp. (TSX:T) on Tuesday didn’t address the billing issue but said that all devices it launched this fall have been unlocked and “we are beginning to sell many of our existing Apple and Android devices unlocked.”
BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada (TSX:BCE), Quebecor’s Videotron (TSX:QBR.B) and Shaw’s Freedom Mobile (TSX:SJR.B) hadn’t commented on their positions by late Tuesday.
David Paddon, The Canadian Press