A new rule has just come into effect courtesy of the Canadian regulator of the telecommunications industry, and it’s great news for consumers.

Back in June, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced its plans to ban mobile phone unlocking fees, effective December 1st. Here’s what’s happening now:

Three major updates to the CRTC’s Wireless Code

Before Friday, December 1st, telecom companies like Bell, Rogers, and Telus were able to charge you a $50 unlocking fee if you needed to use a different SIM card in your phone (like while travelling, for example). That fee has now been eliminated.

Another big change is that all new phones must be sold unlocked – so even if you purchase a new phone on a contract, you can still use it with a different SIM card.

The third new rule is that for shared family plans, only the main account holder can make and accept changes to data plans and roaming charges, so you won’t have to worry about your kids spending too much time on the phone.

Keep an eye on your phone bill for now

Although every company is expected to comply with these changes as of December 1st, a Financial Post report warns consumers to check their phone bills in case of undue surcharges.

People using shared family plans are still at risk of being charged overage fees due to extra data usage by non-account holders on the plan, and are urged to report any such cases to the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS).

“You will get your money back,” John Lawford, executive director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, told Financial Post. “Just be vigilant.”

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