The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced a new wireless code Monday, with the goal of helping consumers navigate their wireless contracts and costs.

The new code targets the at times high cost of using a cell phone or smart phone by capping additional data and roaming charges, and cell phone contracts – allowing consumers to cancel their wireless contracts after two years with no fees, and makes contracts easier to read and understand.

More details on the CRTC’s wireless code can be found on the commission’s website.

The changes were welcomed by three of Canada’s major wireless providers, a spokesperson with Bell Mobility, whose parent company owns CTV News, issued the following statement:

“We can work within the new rules – Bell complies with virtually all of them now, such as alerting consumers on international data usage, or unlocking phones. Bell has always offered 1, 2 or 3 year contracts, and of course no customer is required to take a contract at all. Most have chosen 3 year contracts because of the big price reductions they mean on the latest smartphones. Restricting to 2 years means less flexibility for consumers so it remains to be seen how they’ll respond.”

A spokesperson with Telus Mobility issued the following statement Monday:

"TELUS believes that many aspects of this new code will give Canadians a strong and friendly set of protections. At TELUS, we have been making a genuine effort over the past number of years to listen to our customers and respond with significant improvements. As a result, we already do a lot of what is in the new code. For example, TELUS replaced contract cancellation charges with a device balance some years ago. We also already offer phone unlocking for our customers and we already have a cap on international data roaming.  We are thus well positioned to support this new code."

In addition, a Rogers spokesperson issued a statement, calling the new code “good news for Canadians”, and said the company submitted a proposed code to the CRTC in March, 2012:

“Overall, we believe the Code will help deliver a transparent, clear and predictable customer experience to all Canadians. In fact, we’ve already incorporated many practices at Rogers that support these principles such as:

  • New device unlocking policy means subsidized phones can be unlocked after 90-days of service on accounts in good standing
  • Easy-to-understand cancellation fees based on the device subsidy
  • Customers have flexibility to upgrade their deviceat any time with FLEXtab by paying a cancellation fee based on their device subsidy
  • Easy tools to track data, voice or text usage online or with device app
  • Customers can change their price plan at any time during a term with no fees and no term extension required

We’ll be reviewing the Code in more detail to determine what exactly what impact it will have on our business and our customers”

The Alberta government also weighed in after the announcement was made, with Service Alberta Minister Manmeet Bhullar touted the move, saying it follows-through on efforts the province had made to establish consistent rules across the board for the wireless market.

The CRTC established the code following participation and input from the wireless industry – officials said more than 5,000 participated in an online discussion, in writing and in public hearings held between February 11 and 15 of this year.

The changes will take effect for new contracts starting on or after December 2, 2013.

With files from CTV’s Laura Lowe