Bell Canada has revised its policy to allow the unlocking of any cellphones locked to its network, as long as the devices are not fraudulent.
The move comes after months of complaints made towards the company’s previous policy, which only entitled current and former customers to free unlocking. Wireless providers were mandated by the CRTC to drop all unlocking charges on Dec. 1 to allow Canadians more freedom to switch between carriers.
Many perceived the company’s selective unlocking practices to be extremely unfair, as it was not reflective of the new regulations. Individuals who obtained cellphones that just so happened to be locked to Bell’s network were outraged that they were still being charged $50 to get their phones unlocked, despite the ban on such fees.
Rogers, Telus and Freedom Mobile allowed for the unlocking of any cellphones locked to their network as soon as the new regulations came out, which made Bell look even worse. People with Bell-locked cellphones who were turned down were simply told that they would be charged for the unlocking just because they had never been Bell customers before.
When asked by CBC News why they had changed their policy all of a sudden, Bell responded by saying that they “recently implemented a system of further checks to validate that the device is not linked to a fraudulent or delinquent account.” However, some analysts believe the real reason was because Bell was put under immense pressure to do so.
John Lawford, the executive director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, submitted a a complaint to the CRTC in December that calls for a clarification of unlocking regulations. The organization wants the new regulations to explicitly state that all wireless providers must unlock cellphones from their networks free of charge, without question.