CRTC set to unveil new code of conduct for wireless companies today

OTTAWA – The CRTC is set to unveil a new code of conduct for cellphone companies that could include changes to contract lengths and provisions to unlock mobile devices.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is expected to announce the new wireless code at 9 a.m. today.

The commission aims to set national standards for the content and clarity of cellphone contracts.

In the lead-up to public hearings held earlier this year, the CRTC said it heard a lot of angry comments about three-year contracts offered by wireless carriers when it was putting together a draft version of the national code for wireless services.

The commission isn’t likely to ban such contracts, and the new code may instead deal with such issues as early-termination fees, allowing consumers to cancel service at any time.

The CRTC has a backer in the federal Competition Bureau, which has said it supports measures to limit contract length.

Another issue the new code is expected to deal with is locked cellphones. The CRTC may require carriers to provide consumers with the means to unlock the device after no more than 30 days of service, at the rate specified in the contract.

The regulator could also allow consumers to set a cap on additional fees — which would including text messaging, data and roaming charges — to avoid huge, surprise bills.