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Bill Proposes Canadian Cellphone Unlocking Rights

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the any-network-that-works dept.

Canada 359

SJrX sends in a CBC report that the Canadian New Democratic Party has tabled a bill requiring all cellphone companies to provide unlocked cellphones. (Wikipedia notes, "The party is regarded as falling on the left in the Canadian political spectrum.") This reader adds, "The fact that there is a minority government currently should help this bill's chances of getting passed." "The bill proposes three rules: cellphone carriers would be required to notify customers at the point of purchase whether a phone is locked to work only on their network; they would have to remove such a lock free of charge at any point after the conclusion of the customer's service contract; and they would have to remove it if the customer does not enter into a contract within six months of buying the device up front."

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359 comments

Unless C-32 goes through (3, Insightful)

al3 (1285708) | more than 3 years ago | (#32611846)

"Sure you're free to take this phone to another carrier, just don't circumvent the DRM to do it"

Re:Unless C-32 goes through (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#32611910)

And what if I have my own phone purchased by other means - will I be able to purchase a subscription with a SIM card to it without any problems?

Re:Unless C-32 goes through (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612228)

Actually, that is a false allegation. While digital locks are enforced, cell phones are exempt from such jurisdiction, as long as the customer meets the obligations of their contract. Here is an FAQ about the bill straight from the Government of Canada:
http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/crp-prda.nsf/eng/h_rp01153.html

For those too lazy to click, here is the extract on cell phones:

"Copyright owners told us that effective TPM protections were needed to encourage investment in new digital and online content — This bill offers those businesses that rely on the use of digital locks to protect expensive investments the support of the law. The bill also gives Canadians with wireless devices the ability to unlock their devices in order to switch service providers. However, this does not affect any contractual relationship with the current service."

While I do not agree with C-32, it does have some good points in it. For example, fines for non-commercial infringement top-out at $5k for all infringement leading up to the fine. This means that as long as you aren't making money off of any infringement, the most you could be held liable is $5k, which means it isn't really worth it for them to chase after you. $5k per person really doesn't line a lawyer's pockets with enough money, especially since a settlement would be much less.

Re:Unless C-32 goes through (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612312)

There's a specific exception in C-32 for cell-phone unlocking:

http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/5109/125/

There are valid reasons to hate C-32, but that's not one of them.

Oh Canada (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#32611852)

Between laws like this, universal healthcare, low crime, etc. I'm considering hiring a coyote to smuggle me and my family across the border. All of the advantages of modern America without all the ultra-right-wing bullshit and wars. I'd pay higher taxes and put up with more snow for that.

Re:Oh Canada (2, Informative)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 3 years ago | (#32611864)

You should really think hard about that. I live in Canada and the Snow can be a real pain sometimes.

Re:Oh Canada (-1, Offtopic)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32611902)

I bet ice cream sales really struggle up there :p

Re:Oh Canada (1)

jargon82 (996613) | more than 3 years ago | (#32611998)

Yes, but it's not a big deal since you can just store it outside year round. Lower electrical and storage costs make up for slow sales.

Re:Oh Canada (1)

c_sd_m (995261) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612204)

Naw, we've gotta pack on the weight for the hard, long winter and ice cream's one of the best ways to do it.

Re:Oh Canada (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612206)

Actually, fun fact: Winnipeg sells more Slurpees from 7/11 per capita than any other place in the world.

Re:Oh Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612320)

Actually, fun fact: Winnipeg sells more Slurpees from 7/11 per capita than any other place in the world.

And for those who aren't familiar with Winnipeg, its winters are the among the longest and coldest in the world.

Oddly enough, its summers, although ridiculously short, are ridiculously hot.

Re:Oh Canada (1)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 3 years ago | (#32611992)

But global warming is helping us out with that tho.

Fortunately I live an hour or so north of the border

Re:Oh Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612236)

Fortunately I live an hour or so north of the border

You and over half the country.

Re:Oh Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612102)

Right, because there is, of course, no snow south of the Canadian border...

Re:Oh Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612278)

As a matter of fact, there is not.

It's called armageddon, the end of days or "nature's war against humanity" down there. They don't feel comfortable if the world isn't going to end or if there's no war to wage - even if only against some inanimate object.

Re:Oh Canada (1)

rxan (1424721) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612316)

Agreed. But there are plenty of places in the US where you get both the snow and the crazies. I'll take snow without the crazies, thanks.

Re:Oh Canada (5, Insightful)

Genwil (943858) | more than 3 years ago | (#32611896)

And our taxes aren't even all that much higher when you add up all your state and local taxes. Plus a study has shown that citizens earning up to $85k/yr get back services worth more than that. We also live longer and do better in almost any social stat you can think of. But not to sound smug: we are far from perfect, and 30% of us seem hell-bent on voting for a party determined to be as Republican as they can.

Wrong! (0)

Reilaos (1544173) | more than 3 years ago | (#32611960)

I live in Texas. And god damnit, the only thing we really have besides cattle, space, and oil industries, is really low taxes. I was somewhat unnerved when I visited Vancouver.

Re:Wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612036)

Yeah I drove through Texas. I think there was more poor people there than in Mogadishu. So many areas where you simply can't walk around safely at night - no thanks. I'll pay an extra 10% of my income to know my kids aren't going to get carjacked next time they borrow the car.

Re:Wrong! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612218)

greetings from mogadishu
  http://www.stssomalia.com/images/Abuu%20cuteyba%20The%20chairman%20of%20the%20Islamic%20Court%20of%20deyniile.JPG
wish you were here

Re:Oh Canada (-1, Flamebait)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612010)

>>>Plus a study has shown that citizens earning up to $85k/yr get back services worth more than that.

So if I pay $20,000 a year in taxes, and I have a job that pays less the $43 an hour, I get back more than $20,000 in services? I find that difficult to believe especially since I barely use any government services. (I drive on roads, and that's about it.)

Re:Oh Canada (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612118)

Everybody hates you. Please shut the fuck up. Thank you.

Re:Oh Canada (5, Insightful)

plalonde2 (527372) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612200)

So you also clearly don't keep health insurance for your family, don't benefit from (in no particular order) police services, fire departments, curb-side trash removal, winter snow removal, labor regulation, environmental regulation, judicial services, etc.

Why are so many people willfully ignorant of what services modern governments pay for from their taxes?

Re:Oh Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612280)

Where's that message where the guy details all the government services he benefits from on an average day?

Re:Oh Canada (0, Troll)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612420)

Not everyone lives in a city sucking from the government's teat.

Re:Oh Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612488)

...said the farmer living off his government subsidy.

Re:Oh Canada (1)

ahankinson (1249646) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612500)

You get "passive services" (things that exist that you don't have to explicitly take advantage of) like police, fire departments, trash removal, equipment and food safety inspection, military protection, weather services, road maintenance, and a whole slew of other things. If you ever do need health care, employment insurance, immigration services, a pension fund, or any other service like that, they're there immediately, kinda like insurance.

All told, between paying the equivalent in insurance or private contractors to do these things, I would imagine that you do get more than $20k in services back per year.

Re:Oh Canada (4, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612546)

I find that difficult to believe especially since I barely use any government services.

I call BS on that one. Chances are extremely good that you've done at least some of these in the last year:
  - Purchased food inspected by the government to ensure that it's unlikely to give you food poisoning, and that the nutritional information listed on the side of the container is accurate. Or purchased food from a restaurant which had been inspected to ensure that there weren't cockroaches all over the place (among other things).
  - Purchased gasoline from a pump that had been inspected to ensure that 1 gallon of price = 1 gallon of fuel.
  - Put money into a bank knowing that the bank was required by law to give it back to you if you asked for it, and would still be yours even if the bank went under (assuming it was less than $100,000).
  - Engaged in a transaction on an SEC-regulated market.
  - Taken advantage of a 401(k) or IRA.
  - Relied on the military and police for protection against any really serious attack (not just one criminal going after your property, but an organized assault with bombs and missiles). You may have also called your emergency services for help with a criminal, a fire, an injury, or other hazards.
  - Made use of a government water system (not necessarily at home).
  - Taken a walk or ride or swim in a public park of some kind.
  - Ridden on or flown an aircraft that had been regulated to ensure that it was extremely unlikely to crash.
  - Breathed air that wasn't super-polluted because government regulations prevented companies from just spewing out nasty particulate matter.

I can keep going if you like. The point is, most of the really useful stuff your government does at various levels is not readily visible but affects you every day.

Re:Oh Canada (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32611962)

>>>All of the advantages of modern America

What about jobs? I've looked for an engineering job in Canada, managed to get one interview five years ago, and that's it. They seem a little scarce at least for my skillset (designing FPGAs).

Re:Oh Canada (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612060)

Yes, this is definitely a problem in Canada. A lot of skilled workers go to the US. Although there are many software jobs in Canada, it is really lacking in hardware. The problem is, how can Canada compete with Silicon Valley? I heard that around 300K Canadians live in Silicon Valley. That's like 1% of Canada's population. Maybe RIM might need FPGA guys.

Re:Oh Canada (1)

cecille (583022) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612422)

Waterloo in general is a good place to look for engineering jobs. There's RIM, but there's also a bunch of other tech companies around there. My old company was hiring when I left, and the company that backed my master's work was also looking for VLSI people.

Re:Oh Canada (1)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612516)

(designing FPGAs).

Sir, forgive me if I'm way off here, but I'm having trouble reading your post through its ambiguous acronyms. Is this FPGA the ever-so-coveted "First-Post-Get Algorithm" that Slashdot Anonymous Cowards have been seeking their whole lives?

Re:Oh Canada (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612002)

You should know that they have milk in bags up there.

I think that negates all of the items you listed.

Re:Oh Canada (1)

c_sd_m (995261) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612268)

Depends where you are. On the east coast, I've only ever found cartons and plastic jugs. Ontario seems to have mostly bags (grocery stores) and jugs (convenience stores) with some cartons (mostly 1L), depending on where you shop.

Re:Oh Canada (2, Informative)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612016)

I think Canada has maintained a good balance between free markets and social needs. This is evident with the lack of bank failures during the crisis. I think this is due to the politics, with more parties to vote for and more awareness by the citizens. Canadians won't stand for any sort of corruption, even if it's for a meager $1M of crony contracts. Americans don't get angry enough about the massive corruption in the US government, like with Haliburton, the bank bailout for the rich, lobbyists buying politicians. And with only 2 viable parties, the Republicans and Democrats are essentially an oligopoly.

Re:Oh Canada (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612140)

I disagree with a couple points:

I think Canada has maintained a good balance between free markets and social needs. This is evident with the lack of bank failures during the crisis. I think this is due to the politics, with more parties to vote for and more awareness by the citizens.

We had a financial meltdown in the 1920s which led to strict rules being put in place to prevent what happened in 2008 with the subprime mortgage mess.

Canadians won't stand for any sort of corruption, even if it's for a meager $1M of crony contracts.

We put up with far more shit then we should. The current federal conservative government needs to get tossed out on their asses for the amount of bullshit they've pulled in the past couple years. Unfortunitely, none of the other parties can get their shit together well enough to get it done. And this is the opinion of a former staunch supporter of the conservatives.

Re:Oh Canada (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612042)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100531/hl_nm/us_health_3

Soaring costs force Canada to reassess health model

Re:Oh Canada (1, Troll)

pudge (3605) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612074)

Between laws like this, universal healthcare, low crime, etc. I'm considering hiring a coyote to smuggle me and my family across the border.

Yes, this is a lot like universal healthcare: it's a government unreasonably telling private people what transactions they CANNOT engage in (private insurance in Canada is illegal). This will, of course, increase the cost of cell phones for most people ... the reason prices are low is because they know that you're locked in when they sell it to you.

I am all for consumer information, so I love the part about informing consumers that the phone must only be used with their service. But forcing consumer and business to exchange money for an unlocked phone? Idiocy.

Re:Oh Canada (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612186)

The are only required to unlock it once the contract is over (or 6 months if no contract is signed) so I don't see why they would have to raise the rates.

Re:Oh Canada (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612198)

Yes, this is a lot like universal healthcare: it's a government unreasonably telling private people what transactions they CANNOT engage in (private insurance in Canada is illegal).

They're not the same. Most countries with universal healthcare still allow private healthcare/insurance, Canada is an exception.

This will, of course, increase the cost of cell phones for most people ... the reason prices are low is because they know that you're locked in when they sell it to you.

But after 12 months (when the contract ends, so presumably the phone is now paid for) the phone is still locked. If it were unlocked, the customer has extra options: take the phone and use a cheap SIM-only plan from another provider, or negotiate a reduction in the cost of the current plan.

Re:Oh Canada (-1, Troll)

pudge (3605) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612308)

They're not the same. Most countries with universal healthcare still allow private healthcare/insurance, Canada is an exception.

The poster brought up Canada, and so I was talking about Canada.

This will, of course, increase the cost of cell phones for most people ... the reason prices are low is because they know that you're locked in when they sell it to you.

But after 12 months (when the contract ends, so presumably the phone is now paid for) the phone is still locked.

Except the same principle applies: right now, for locked phones, if someone wants to keep their phone, they need to renew their contract, which a lot of people do, which makes companies able to sell the phones for less.

I mean come on ... the company obviously has a business interest in locking the phone, or they wouldn't bother. So saying that there's no cost associated with unlocking the phones -- not even including the customer service costs to be incurred at the point of unlocking -- is silly.

Re:Oh Canada (3, Informative)

anthonyfk (1394881) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612232)

Yes, this is a lot like universal healthcare: it's a government unreasonably telling private people what transactions they CANNOT engage in (private insurance in Canada is illegal).

Um, no? [bluecross.ca] (One of many.)

Re:Oh Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612310)

Reality has a liberal bias.

Re:Oh Canada (2, Informative)

pudge (3605) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612348)

Yes, this is a lot like universal healthcare: it's a government unreasonably telling private people what transactions they CANNOT engage in (private insurance in Canada is illegal).

Um, no? [bluecross.ca] (One of many.)

Actually, yes. I was -- obvious to people familiar with Canada's system and the debate, including legal disputes, around it -- recognize I was referring to normal insurance. You linked to supplemental insurance, which, yes, is legal.

Re:Oh Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612244)

private insurance in Canada is illegal

I'm Canadian and I have private insurance. In fact, most real jobs provide this through one private company or another as part of the benefits package.

There are also private clinics you can go to instead of a hospital if you want to pay, though this isn't all that common.

Or are you talking about something completely different? (I admit I'm not really up on how the American system works)

Re:Oh Canada (1)

pudge (3605) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612384)

I'm Canadian and I have private insurance.

Supplemental insurance. I was referring to buying insurance that replaces the government insurance. It's prohibited.

Re:Oh Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612266)

When was the last time you purchased a cell phone outright in Canada. The prices are absurd compared to the US and Europe. This bill won't affect the people that get the 3 year contract as they will still be locked in for those three years. I don't think you even rtfs.

Re:Oh Canada (1)

rxan (1424721) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612436)

Yes, this is a lot like universal healthcare: it's a government unreasonably telling private people what transactions they CANNOT engage in (private insurance in Canada is illegal).

You ever stop and think about WHY healthcare is public? When you allow people with more money to have better healthcare you are putting their lives at a greater value than those less fortunate. I don't care where you live but that's not right.

The first case we had of someone being able to pay more for better healthcare was last year I think. I'm not sure what loophole they used to legally do this. There was a social uproar about it.

Re:Oh Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612440)

Yes, this is a lot like universal healthcare: it's a government unreasonably telling private people what transactions they CANNOT engage in

No. It's the government reasonably limiting what private corporations who generally collude to eliminate real competition can do to restrict consumers' right to make choices in the marketplace.

(private insurance in Canada is illegal).

Just plain wrong and stupid. I have private insurance, through my employer, as does pretty much every other Canadian.

This will, of course, increase the cost of cell phones for most people ... the reason prices are low is because they know that you're locked in when they sell it to you.

No, it will force the industry to provide a wider variety of services at a variety of prices, which is exactly the way a free market works. It's like the new iPhone, which is being offered in Canada as a choice: either locked at a discount price, or unlocked at a higher price. Elsewhere, there is no choice. It's locked, period. This means Canadians are allowed to make choices.

But forcing consumer and business to exchange money for an unlocked phone? Idiocy.

Nobody's being forced to exchange anything. They're being prevented from unnecessarily and unreasonably limiting the product they provide in order to stifle competition. They're being forced to compete, and consequently will have to rely on good old fashioned "providing a better product or service" to win customers, rather than "locking down the customer so they can't go to the competition". It's how capitalism is supposed to work.

Re:Oh Canada (1)

ahankinson (1249646) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612544)

Could you clarify? Many of us have, what I would consider, "private" insurance - For example, I have health care coverage from Blue Cross that supplements the basic universal coverage and takes care of things like drugs, private hospital beds, etc.

Maybe there's another meaning of "private" insurance that I'm not aware of?

Re:Oh Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612556)

"This will, of course, increase the cost of cell phones for most people ... the reason prices are low is because they know that you're locked in when they sell it to you."

Right, and if you even bothered to read the summary then you'd know that they don't have to unlock the phone until AFTER your contract is over, or after 6 months if you've paid full price for it anyway. There's no extra money to be made here. You're full of shit and don't even read the summary. You seriously work for slashdot? This explains things.

Re:Oh Canada (0, Offtopic)

Lythrdskynrd (1823332) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612116)

Honestly, it is a fuck-of-a-lot more snow. :)

Re:Oh Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612510)

Snow is a reason to want to move to Canada, not a detraction.

That said, variety is the reason I choose to live in California, and not Canada. Where I'm at, a 2- to 3-hour drive to the [south]west are some of the best beaches in the United States, and a one-and-a-half-hour drive to the east are some of the best ski resorts in all of North America.

Re:Oh Canada (1)

mikazo (1028930) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612334)

Canada's not without its right-wing bullshit. Check Google News for some of the things Stephen Harper's been up to lately. Proroguing Parliament twice, calling his opposition a bunch of losers, comparing other MPs to terrorist groups, no presence at the carbon emissions/pollution world summit not long ago, major cuts to arts programs, just to name a few.

Re:Oh Canada (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612382)

If you live in Vancouver, you get to avoid the snow most of the year too :)

PS I love being Canadian, come on up.

Re:Oh Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612506)

As long as high speed internet and high quality healthcare (We have "the best that money can't buy") isn't important to you, yup, you've got it.

Canada ranks pretty low on those things. I believe we're now the slowest and most expensive country for internet out of the G20. Or we're pretty close to it.

Hmm.... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32611874)

While I agree with the premise here, I'm not sure I like the idea of forcing companies to do this. I mean, the advantage of an unlocked phone is only apparent if there are other networks in the country that phone can run on.

Maybe this isn't a problem in Canada like it is here in the US...?

Re:Hmm.... (1)

carlhaagen (1021273) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612012)

It's a US-only problem, because your operators wanted it that way. It's also why your data/voice rates are notably higher and your utilities and freedoms are notably worse, than those of the European operators.

Re:Hmm.... (2, Informative)

corychristison (951993) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612024)

This news comes on the heels of some of the larger Mobile carriers recently launching their GSM (most 3.5G) networks.

Before very recently there was only one company in the entire country that utilized GSM and that was Rogers [rogers.ca]. Every other company was CDMA. There were a few other company names that used GSM, but they simply bought/rented bandwidth off of Rogers towers. The largest of which was Fido [www.fido.ca], however they were eventually bought up by Rogers.

This sounds like a good thing to me and I hope it goes through. It probably wont because Telco's here have a lot of power just like they do in the USA.

My provider is set to launch their GSM network in a few weeks and I'm pretty excited.

Re:Hmm.... (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612454)

Fido was entirely independent with their own set of towers at one point in time. (microcell).
However Rogers bought 'em out and consolidated equipment/towers.

Every other GSM provider (up until recently / soon, but after the rogers-fido merger) just leases rogers' network, though. (7-11 and.. whoever else).

Re:Hmm.... (1)

hey (83763) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612480)

You probably know didn't state it... Bell and Telus got together to build a GSM network. Because of the iPhone and to cash in on roaming charges during the Olympics.

Re:Hmm.... (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612482)

My provider is set to launch their GSM network in a few weeks and I'm pretty excited.

As a European, this comment takes me right back to the heady days of 1994.

Re:Hmm.... (1)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612040)

I can buy an unlocked I phone from the Apple web-sight in Canada.

Then I could use it as a wi-fi phone.

HSDPA+ / UMTS in Canada (1)

Rog7 (182880) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612062)

Previously I'd say the differing network technologies were a concern. Bell & Telus operate mostly on CDMA while Rogers runs on GSM. Most of the smaller carriers operate piggybacked onto these networks, or are owned outright by these three carriers. Wind Mobile is the exception (using AWS).

More recently however, all three of the major carriers have been implementing HSDPA+ (Wikipedia link [wikipedia.org]) on UMTS 850 / 1900MHz. So if you're buying a Smartphone that's a "world phone", chances are you can use it in on all of the major carriers. Google's Nexus One for instance. Right now, you can get an HTC Legend for a great non-contract price of $350 from Virgin Mobile (operated by Bell), unlock it and use it in most major cities.

Myself, I just purchased a Samsung Galaxy Spica branded for Rogers and unlocked it to use on Bell. I had to get the unlock code via eBay (and buy a Bell SIM), but I would have preferred to just get it unlocked in the first place, or unlocked by request. There have also been problems with carriers being stubborn over allowing unlocked devices (Bell is still pretty picky, but currently allowing it), so this bill is something I'd like to see passed.

These carriers may change back to different technologies when they get to 4G, but from press releases so far they've all put the brakes on LTE, etc. for now and are planning on pushing HSPDA+ to its max potential first.

Re:HSDPA+ / UMTS in Canada (1)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612194)

I wonder if companies will be forced to adjust their QoS policies on devices though... For example, Rogers, apparently, prioritizes devices on it's network the following way: 1) Rogers phones 2) Rogers data sticks 3) Unlocked phones 4) Unlocked data sticks. At least that's what the very concerned letter I got from Rogers in Huntsville, ON said last year regarding my insane use of a 3G stick (I think I managed 130-140GB of downstream in a single month?) screwing up their ability to service customers with non-rogers phones off the tower I was connecting to... Which might have been BS. But it would explain why my friend with an unlocked phone was only getting 2 bars, while my other friend with the same phone but from Rogers was getting 5, both standing by the same (real) lake... I really wish I still had that letter. It was such an entertaining "How the hell are you using that much bandwidth legitimately?" letter - (MSDN subscriptions are a dangerous thing ;)

Re:Hmm.... (2, Insightful)

FingerSoup (928761) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612210)

Rogers Bought Fido, and merged their two GSM networks. Telus and Bell, who both used CDMA, are in bed together now, and created their own GSM network, so they could get the iPhone. So now, we actually do have a choice where we get our contracts from. The only problem is that the plans are so similar these days, that they all cost about the same for the same amount of minutes, data, etc... If I didn't know better I'd say they were price fixing.... hopefully the new wireless companies (Wind, hopefully soon to be Shaw), will actually do some radical things to pricing that will bring down the incumbents...

Re:Hmm.... (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612374)

Do Canadian cell phone carriers still lock their phones so they will only play ringtones from the carriers store?

Already in Europe (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 3 years ago | (#32611878)

This is already required if not in all of the EU, then in most of the northern European countries. Cell-phones are instead sold with minimum-time subscriptions, so you may change operator but you still have to pay for the old subscription until the minimum time runs out.

Re:Already in Europe (1)

carlhaagen (1021273) | more than 3 years ago | (#32611928)

Also worth to point out is that, contrary to popular belief, it's (at least in Sweden) not against the law to unlock the phone yourself using readily available software on the net. If I'm not entirely mistaken, it IS illegal as a US customers to unlock one's own cellphone after purchase while still in the subscription term, as it constitutes "tampering" with something labelled as the property of someone else (the operator).

Re:Already in Europe (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612066)

I don't believe that is entirely true. It is not illegal in the US, however it may void a service or purchase contract for the device. Carriers then have the right to refuse continued service for the device (though that rarely goes beyond warrantied replacement and repairs). Even though our ridiculously expensive monthly plans serve to subsidize the cost of the phone, individuals are generally still considered to have purchases the phone. US customers rarely lease or rent phones from carriers outside of business plans.

We are free to do anything we like with the device, but if we violate the terms of our service plan ToA's then the carriers are free to kick us right off of their network.

Re:Already in Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612122)

in essence it's just as bad. it's a silent threat, and stranglehold on the customer. i am very happy our european operators aren't like this.

Re:Already in Europe (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612456)

Yes, the Danish rule is that after 6 month, the carrier is obliged to unlock your phone for free.

The carrier I use (Telmore) doesn't even bother with that, they just sell them unlocked. It makes the most sense anyway, if you buy a subsidized phone, why should they care whether you actually use their bandwidth? You have to pay them the monthly fee for the binding period (6 months) in any case.

Gaining My Support (5, Interesting)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 3 years ago | (#32611916)

I'm a Liberal and have been since I started voting. For the most part, I sympathized with the NDP (since they are a left party and I am similarly left in most of my views) but just didn't think most of their agendas were in line with my interests and goals. Of late, however, they have taken new "modern" issues very seriously and are coming out on the side I support, which is to say the side of the populace rather than corporate overlords. As the Liberals languish in a bygone era and the Conservatives drive further towards a system that I loathe (and all other options simply not worth considering unless I've already put a bullet in my head), I find myself becoming increasingly inclined to vote NDP in upcoming elections. Kudos to them and I hope they keep forcing the other parties to seriously consider consumer rights as various subjects are discussed and debated.

Re:Gaining My Support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612134)

and all other options simply not worth considering unless I've already put a bullet in my head

Political diversity is integral to democracy, or would you prefer the U.S. two-party system?

Actually, I don't know what the canadian alternatives are so maybe you're right, but I think it's bad to make such a statement because it suggests that you think there is something wrong with voting for a small party just because it is small.

Don't hold your breath (2, Informative)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#32611958)

Keep in mind that the Neo Democrats (NDP) are a minority party. As long as the ruling conservatives get the backing of the liberals (the main opposition party), they can beat the project and kill it outright. Stephen Harper has shown time and again to be a shill of the MPAA and RIAA, so this outcome is the most likely one.

Re:Don't hold your breath (2, Informative)

c_sd_m (995261) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612048)

But the NDP is a pretty big minority. If the liberals and NDP stick together on an issue, the tories can't overrule them. Or did I miss another election?

Re:Don't hold your breath (2, Informative)

anthonyfk (1394881) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612282)

They'd need the support of the Bloc as well. Liberals + NDP = 114 seats to the Conservatives 144.

Re:Don't hold your breath (1)

spaanoft (153535) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612110)

...uhm, but this has nothing to do with the RIAA or MPAA (not their Canadian counterparts). In fact, he's already raised the ire of the mobile phone companies by letting in foreign investment and opening up the spectrum to smaller players. So far the current government hasn't really seemed very one-sided on the mobile phone front, so I wouldn't be surprised either way if he support it.

That being said, even if Stephen Harper hates the idea, I doubt he'll use up some of his party political capital to whip the vote over something this small. It's almost for sure going to be a free vote, which means it probably won't fit nicely down party lines.

Re:Don't hold your breath (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612466)

This has everything to do with the MPAA, if you think about it. It's at their request that Canada now has a law that makes it a criminal offense to record a movie at a theater using a camcorder, something that was at most a civil offense until last year. He's shown a willingness to protect the mercantile interest of big media companies by making into jailable offenses behavior that was either unregulated or fell into squarely into civil law.

Re:Don't hold your breath (1)

plalonde2 (527372) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612238)

Also keep in mind that the ruling conservative party is a minority party.

The days of electoral majorities are behind us, I think. Time to get more mature about our voting options.

Re:Don't hold your breath (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612258)

The Conservatives and the Liberals don't agree on anything. So good luck on that happening. What is much more likely is the NDP getting the Liberals and the Bloc on their side with this bill and getting it passed.

Re:Don't hold your breath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612540)

Actually... what the Liberals would have no incentive to oppose this, nor would the BQ, so unless the Conservatives are going to make a confidence issue out of a consumer rights issue where they're firmly on the wrong side, I could actually see this passing.

Re:Don't hold your breath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612550)

That's true. However, in a minority government, a minority party has more influence than normal, and if the 3 main parties in opposition support this bill (i.e. the Liberals, the New Democratic Party, and the Bloc Quebecois), then the legislation could pass whether the governing Conservatives want it or not.

And I can't imagine this bill being unpopular with the public, who have been shafted by the phone companies for years over this issue. The Liberals would be stupid to oppose it. Heck, the Conservatives would be stupid to oppose it. Not that it's stopped either of them before from voting strategically, but it isn't a confidence issue, so I think there's a decent chance this bill would pass. It doesn't matter which party was proposing the bill. Heck, I think even if the Bloc Quebecois were proposing the bill it would stand a decent chance of passing.

Cue the..... (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#32611982)

Phone company sympathizers that will claim it hurts business...

wont someone think of the rich CEO's!

3rd party unlocking legal in Sweden. (2, Informative)

migla (1099771) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612032)

Over here in Sweden, 3rd party unlocking of phones is legal. (or at least has been, haven't seen much advertising for that lately, come to think of it.)

You could pay the equivalent of $50 or something to some bozo with a computer and a cable to crack the operator lock.

Obviously, if you signed a contract with monthly fees for a number of months, you'd still have to pay those, but there were some marketing stunt where you could get a locked phone without monthly fees virtually for free. You could then unlock it and sell with a nice profit.

That kind of deals obviously don't come often. Maybe there was just the one.

Bill Proposes Canadian Cellphone Unlocking Rights (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612058)

Ted, however, is against it on the grounds that it's totally bogus.

A letter I sent to my NDP representative 8/25/09 (4, Interesting)

Lythrdskynrd (1823332) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612096)

I sent this letter to my local NDP representative 8/25/09

I am writing you due to my concern and displeasure with what I feel are unacceptable, anti-competitive practices in Canada's mobile phone industry.

Foremost among my concerns is the practice of "Cell Phone Network Locking". Cellular phones are expensive pieces of equipment. Consumers nowadays can expect to either pay hundreds of dollars or be required to lock themselves in to a three year contract in order to get a handset subsidized by their network provider.

I understand and respect the network's need to protect their investment in terms of the "minimum contract time", but my problem arises at the end of the contract term (or immediately, in the case of the consumer who purchases their hardware outright).

Networks sell their hardware in a "Network Locked" state. This means that a phone purchased from Rogers will only work on Rogers owned networks, Bell only with Bell and so on... If a consumer who owns their phone outright is in any way unsatisfied with their service or have to switch providers for any reason, they are forced to abandon their hardware and "start again" with a new and expensive handset or enter another long contract.

Modern cell phones will typically cost $500 but can climb to almost $1000 for top-of-the-line hardware.

A recent article in the news cites Canada's cell phone rates as being amongst the world's most expensive (http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2009/08/11/canada-cellphone-rates-expensive-oecd.html).

Though many countries do not have laws regarding the practice of SIM locking, a number of countries do seem to have been able to strike a fair balance between consumer protection and corporate profits.

I would urge you to consider pursuing Canadian regulations like those described in the following countries: Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Netherlands, Singapore and Spain. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SIM_lock) All of these countries have regulations that in one way or another allow the consumer to freely own their handset after they have paid for it. Often there is some fair and reasonable period of protection for the company.

Whether it be like Hong Kong's "until the phone is paid for", or Denmark's "Six Months" isn't really an issue for me, but for the time being it seems that relying on Canadian providers to voluntarily provide unlock codes to consumers is not working. I believe a legislative implement will be what is best for Canadians.

Competition is good for the consumer as is choice, allowing customers who have paid for their hardware to choose which provider to get their service from will hopefully improve our situation.

A second issue which seems to be getting coverage elsewhere is the move to charge consumers for receiving text messages. I am strongly against this as it opens the door for consumers to be forced into paying "Junk Mail".

Although I'll admit that I'm not necessarily an NDP supporter regularly, I am certainly in agreement with their current "I'm Against The Text Message Cash Grab" campaign that they seem to be running (Even if the language is a bit inflammatory for my tastes, the message is clear). Should you find yourself in a position to suppourt a bill on this issue, I would be pleased if you did.

Thank you very much for your time,

And here we are nearly 10 Months later and they're introducing a bill?

Could it be possible that the political system actually works? Surely there's some other explanation. Please, Oh Please, let there be some other explanation... I'd hate to be forced into voting for the NDP as the only party that isn't completely incompetent.

Re:A letter I sent to my NDP representative 8/25/0 (1)

Lythrdskynrd (1823332) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612226)

oops... ha ha - that's the one I sent to my Conservative rep. There was another one I sent to my NDP rep when I moved to a different district.

Re:A letter I sent to my NDP representative 8/25/0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32612360)

I sent this letter to my local NDP representative 8/25/09

And here we are nearly 10 Months later and they're introducing a bill?

Could it be possible that the political system actually works? Surely there's some other explanation. Please, Oh Please, let there be some other explanation... I'd hate to be forced into voting for the NDP as the only party that isn't completely incompetent.

That's all fine and good. But just remember one thing. Windows 7 - That was MY idea.

Awesome except for one small thing. (1, Informative)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612160)

There is only one small/minor/insignificant problem; our 3 primary carriers (Bell, Telus, and Rogers) have incompatable networks!
This has improved slightly thanks to the recent Vancouver Olympics, but still the lions share of the phones are incompatable.

Rogers: GSM -850MHz & 1900MHz
Telus: CDMA and limited HSPA -800MHz & 1900MHz
Bell: CDMA and limited HSPA -850MHz & 1900MHz

Unless you have an awesome phone that supports 800MHz and 850MHz you are SOL for voice communication and have to buy a new phone if you wanted to hop from one carrier to another.
Another fly in the ointment, even if your phone is capable (i.e. Nokia N900)Bell & Nokia do not operate on 'SIM' cards like the GSM based world+dog do, so you are SOL again.

They should have been mandated to all jump straight to LTE and drop this incompatable bullshit.

Re:Awesome except for one small thing. (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612514)

Rogers: GSM -850MHz & 1900MHz Telus: CDMA and limited HSPA -800MHz & 1900MHz Bell: CDMA and limited HSPA -850MHz & 1900MHz

You might want to add that said awesome phone would need to support both GSM and CDMA. I hear some Blackberry World Edition phones do

I support this idea. (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 3 years ago | (#32612260)

This is a really good idea. The company's wont lose out on any money by unlocking the phone and physically the performance on the cellular network will increase. The only real question is why hasn't this been done already.
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