Unlocking Your Phone What Comes Next ?

A little while back the CRTC changed the rules for unlocking cellular phone (s). Note that this is only happening on December 1st 2017, until then what is happening.

I have commented on this before, but I decided to have a close look at my Bell contract (you should look at yours as well). Here is what my current Bell Contract says on the subject (reproduced without Bell’s permission):

“Can I unlock my Device and is there a Fee?  When you purchase a Device from Bell it will be locked and can only be used on the Bell network.  If your Device was provided at a discount as part of this Agreement and your account is in good standing and your Device is eligible, you can unlock your Device after a minimum of 90 calendar days, if you pay an unlocking Fee (plus applicable taxes) of $50, or $150 if your account carries a security deposit or is subject to a credit limit.  If your Device was purchased from Bell at full retail price or you brought your own Device (originally purchased from Bell), your Device can be unlocked upon request and payment of an unlocking Fee of $50, plus applicable taxes.  If your account is past due, your Device will not be unlocked until your account balance is paid in full using a credit card.  Visit bell.ca/onetimefees for details.”

Unlocking Cellular Phone

It costs how much ?

Let’s unwrap some of the zingers in this unlocking cellular phone clause.

  • This will cost me $50 until December 1st 2017. I am not sure if I called and talked to their customer retention team, I might get it for free, but maybe not.
  • If I don’t have good credit or have a credit limit, this will cost me $150.
  • There is an HST charge for the service.
  • I better have my account payments up to date, or they will not do this unless I pay all outstanding costs with a credit card.
  • If I got a new iPhone N (where N is the next great iPhone that just came out), I have to wait at least 90 days to have it unlocked.

My Opinion on Current Unlocking Phone Policy

I am disappointed that Bell hasn’t just declared an amnesty on unlocking, and doing it (for existing customers) for free. Given all phones will be unlock-able (and sold unlocked) in a few months, it seems, vindictive to keep charging for this service (especially to existing customers).

I will be waiting until December 1st to get my phone unlocked (I assume that it will take a while). The battery on my iPhone 5, was replaced for $50 so I will be keeping it for a while. Most likely I will be getting a new iPhone some time soon, however, I will try to find the cheapest price possible.


Apple Pay and Interac Together

Is this a good thing is the question to be answered, but later on in this I will discuss that. I have written about Apple Pay and Near Field Communication (NFC) before, but now it seems to be really will be usable in Canada, with Interac announcing an agreement with Apple pay on using this technology.

NFC and Apple Pay
NFC an interesting idea?

Before you leave this page to go set this up remember there are a few limiting factors here:

  1. You need an iPhone 6 series (or above) or a later iPad series (although who would wander around with an iPad to buy things). The Apple Watch has Apple pay  also, but it ends up being “attached” to an iPhone as well.
  2. You need a bank account that you can access via Interac (figured I’d point that one out, just in case you were not sure).
  3. For the Interac part of Apple pay, you need to have an account with RBC or CIBC. CLANG!!! I knew there was going to be a catch.
  4. Apple Pay also works with Amex cards, ATB Mastercards and Canadian Tire Mastercards

OK, so the title is a little bit misleading, as only a few banks are covered here.

The real question, is NFC (Near Field Communication) a good thing? Depends on who you ask. If you read the link I supplied you will know:

NFC is a set of short-range wireless technologies, typically requiring a separation of 10 cm or less

Sounds perfectly safe, doesn’t it? PC World has a very good article about a few steps to take if you are going to use this technology (the reading the fine print and your agreement on use of the technology). The other thing to remember is if you are going to use this technology, your phone had better be secured (i.e. password locked, at least).

It will be interesting to see how well this whole thing works, now that it is more in general usage (in Canada).


Happy End of 3 Year Cell Phone Contracts Day!

Today the CRTC rule about phone companies not being allowed to impose penalties for breaking contracts after 24 months becomes a reality! No more 3 year cell phone contracts! Today (June 3rd, 2015), the CRTC’s new rules come in to play:

The CRTC’s Wireless Code (the Code) comes into effect on December 2, 2013.

3 year cell phone contracts

My Phone From Bell

The final portion is what comes into play today, and that is limiting penalties to any contract for only the first 24 months of the contract (after 24 months, no penalties can be imposed, no more 3 year cell phone contracts), and I quote:

For indeterminate contracts, The Code limits the early cancellation fee as follows:

  • the fee cannot be greater than the amount of your device subsidy
  • the fee must reduce each month, and reach $0 within 24 months.

This means lots of folks have their contracts “expire” today and they are free agents (i.e. they are free to negotiate as good a deal as possible for their next contract). Previously I have written about A Script for Customer Retention Deals and the like, so remember to try to bargain for the best deal possible. Remember asking for a better deal does not make you an Entitled Spoiled Consumer.

Will I be trading my iPhone 5.0 in? No, I haven’t reached 2 years on the contract yet, and it works just fine by me.


Apple Pay and Near Field Communication (NFC)

Until a few days ago NFC, meant National Football Conference to me, but after a little research I learned it also means Near Field Communication, (and Apple’s announcement of Apple Pay)  and it is an exploding field in the Financial and Telecommunication world. You most likely already have Smartcards with “tap” capabilities but more is coming (real soon now).

Apple Pay

An Interesting Product Name and so easily mocked.

Apple’s announcement of  Apple Pay™ as part of the iPhone 6.0, so you can use your phone to “tap and pay” (you don’t even need your wallet any more just wander around with your phone), may be a “game changer” in terms of either payment systems or Smartphones (not sure which). Currently you can use your phone to “pay” but it typically uses the “scanner” capability (i.e. throw up a bar code or scatter code on the smartphone screen, and scan it), will folks adopt this new payment system? Given Apple’s ability to market things, my guess is yes, all the Hipsters will be flocking to using Apple Pay™.

The Disney store is adding payment machines that allow you to pay “on the fly” with your NFC-capable payment thing-a-ma-bob, so you can take your trendy iPhone 6.0 and buy some Disney stuff, Yea!!

Isn’t this a wonderful world we live in? Um, no, not for an old grizzled tech geek like me. All I see with this is yet another way to either:

  • Impulse spend without having to think about the consequences (the battle cry of the hipster, cappuccino sipping generation)
  • Another possible security breach that can empty my bank account (or at least put a dent in it)

If you read the Wikipedia page you will see a nice line that states:

Although the communication range of NFC is limited to a few centimeters, NFC alone does not ensure secure communications.

That is one of the kickers to watch. There are lots of really nifty security stuff built into this technology (I am not a complete Luddite, I do realize folks do try to be secure in these products, I just don’t think they do enough), but it is still susceptible to a few common lines of attack, from those desperadoes out there trying to steal your money (without having to have a gun, or even seeing you). Look up “man in the middle attacks” on Google, for a good example.

The peril of losing your phone now is much more severe as well, and equally important, is to have a good password on your phone (so that folks can’t easily borrow it to pay for things).


Cell Phone Contracts Two years (ONLY)

The CRTC made a good ruling for consumers (maybe not so good for the Wireless Companies, but if I wrote that I felt sorry for them, you’d know I was being incredibly sarcastic) ruling that Cell Phone contracts can only be Two Years in Length.

iPhone Blackberry

So now my wife’s iFruit is on only a 2 year contract? Nice!

To quote our friends at the CRTC:

Among other things, individual and small business consumers will be able to:

  • terminate their wireless contracts after two years without cancellation fees, even if they have signed on for a longer term
  • cap extra data charges at $50/month and international data roaming charges at $100/month to prevent bill shock
  • have their cellphones unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if they paid for the device in full
  • return their cellphones, within 15 days and specific usage limits, if they are unhappy with their service
  • accept or decline changes to the key terms of a fixed-term contract (i.e., 2-year), and
  • receive a contract that is easy to read and understand.

The cap’ing of the max charges is a very nice touch too. Wonder if this works with roaming charges in other countries?

The good news is that if you want a new iFruit ShoeFone or a Crackberry 2001, the longest you’ll be saddled with that technological marvel will only be two years. Honestly that is about the lifespan of these miniature portable computers, so I think the CRTC is in the right with this ruling as well.

Here is a link to the CRTC’s Wireless Code, you should read that over carefully as well.

Anybody with a new Three Year contract should be doing a happy jig as well, given it is now only a two-year contract. Wonder if the Wireless folks will attempt to “recoup their losses” in these situations with new fees? It should make for an interesting few months, that is for sure.


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