Telecoms regulator asks wireless providers to halt 36-month phone financings


OTTAWA — Canada’s telecoms regulator has asked wireless providers to stop offering phone financing plans longer than 24 months as it investigates whether they violate the wireless code.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says the recent trend to offer 36-month smartphone financing may violate the two-year limit on contracts set out in the code.

The regulator says that while the longer contracts could make phone-purchasing plans more affordable, the plans may carry cancellation fees that would lock customers in for longer than the two-year limit set in the code.

It says the limit was set to make it easier for customers to switch providers for better offers, something the longer financing plans could hinder.

The warning comes soon after Telus Corp. confirmed it planned to roll out a 36-month payment plan for phones, while Rogers Communications launched a 36-month financing in early July.

The CRTC has already solicited some information from wireless providers, but says it will publish a notice of consultation to examine the issue in greater detail.