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Not only does the first of December mean that the holidays are near, but with the new month also comes an update to the wireless code that might save you money on your cellphone bill.

New changes effective Friday include a ban on fees to unlock phones. All new phones sold will now be unlocked to begin with. Old inventory still being sold as locked will come with free unlocking instructions.

Trial periods

Providers are now required to give customers a 15-day trial period for their new contracts. If they’re not happy with their service, they’re allowed to cancel if they haven’t gone over 50 per cent of their monthly usage limit and if the phone is returned in near-new condition.

Another major change affects shared accounts. Under the new code, data and roaming overage fees can’t go higher than $50 and $100 a month, respectively, without the account owner approving the charges. Other users on the account will no longer be able to approve those excess fees.

Earlier:

Back in June, the CRTC gave providers until Dec. 1 to shift to the new policy.

Rogers and Telus both asked for extensions to the deadline last month, citing difficulties in adjusting their bill management system for shared accounts in a short timeframe.

The CRTC hasn’t approved those extensions, according to the Financial Post.

Both companies have said they will meet the other requirements on time.

Unlocking phones has generated somewhat substantial revenues for wireless providers. Before the new regulations, asking a provider to unlock your phone could cost you $50. Unlocking fees alone made companies $37.7-million in 2016, The Globe and Mail reported.

Most of the revenue comes from overage fees, that’s why you see Telus and Rogers resisting changing their billing practices.John Lawford

While some are concerned the Big Three wireless companies — Rogers, Bell and Telus — will try to make up for that lost revenue, John Lawford, a Public Interest Advocacy Centre spokesperson told the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) that he isn’t sure if companies are bothered by it.

“I don’t know if the revenue lost is so terribly big that they’ll try to make it up elsewhere,” Lawford said. “Most of the revenue comes from overage fees, that’s why you see Telus and Rogers resisting changing their billing practices… I think unlocking was $37 million, that’s chicken feed for the Big Three.”

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