Cell Phone Freedom Act (Bill C-343)

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The Cell Phone Freedom Act was introduced on June 17, 2010 in the Canadian House of Commons as Bill C-560[1] by Bruce Hyer, then the New Democratic Party Small Business Critic and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Superior North.

Bill C-560 was expired due to the government's defeat in March 2011. Hyer reintroduced the Cell Phone Freedom Act under the new session of parliament on November 3, 2011, as Bill C-343.[2]


The Bill mandates that:

  • consumers buying new cell phones in Canada must be informed of the existence of any SIM lock (also known as a network lock) on their phone before sale;
  • wireless phone companies must unlock handsets upon request, free of charge, when a consumer purchases a new phone outright (unsubsidized) without a contract;
  • wireless phone companies must unlock handsets upon request, free of charge, when a consumer comes to the end of their contract, or at any time thereafter.

Under the proposed legislation, wireless service providers may still employ such locks on customer phones while under contract, so it is unlikely to impact the common practice of offering subsidized phones on contracts.

In introducing the Cell Phone Freedom Act in Parliament, Hyer commented that the effective lack of competition in the Canadian wireless market, combined with lack of regulation, has led to a market situation where mobile phone providers could routinely place restrictions on consumer choice. Unlike most other developed countries, there are no regulations regarding placing a SIM lock on mobile phones so that consumers are limited to using their handsets only on a single provider's network, and the practice has become standard in Canada. Hyer contends that these locks limit consumer choice and limit competition, resulting in poorer service and higher prices for Canadians. While it is possible for advanced users to unlock many GSM and High Speed Packet Access (or HSPA, the mobile telephony protocol Canadian CDMA carriers are migrating to) phones, the process can result in damaged handsets if executed improperly. Mobile service providers generally only need to provide a Subsidy Password that can be typed into a consumer's handset in order to unlock a mobile phone. [3]


On December 15, 2010, Rogers Communications announced they would start offering to unlock all of their customers handsets for a flat fee of $50, in response to public pressure on the issue. [4] The other two major national carriers, Bell and Telus (and its sub-brands Koodo Mobile and Virgin Mobile), have followed suit provided that the device operates on their network as well as having a postpaid account for at least 90 days.[5][6] Other new carriers such as Wind Mobile already sell locked devices (and offer to unlock for $30 after 3 months of service).[7]


  1. ^ Bill C-560 http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=4640240&Language=e&Mode=1
  2. ^ Bill C-343 http://www.parl.gc.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&billId=5218290
  3. ^ http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/info_sht/t14.htm
  4. ^ "Telus to start unlocking its phones". CBC. February 7, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-26. 
  5. ^ LaSalle, LuAnn (February 7, 2011). "Telus to offer service to unlock phones". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2011-02-26. 
  6. ^ Hardy, Ian (May 31, 2012). "TELUS will now unlock your iPhone for $50 (starts June 1st)". MobileSyrup. Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  7. ^ Wind Mobile FAQ: How do I unlock my phone?, retrieved 2014-10-02 

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