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CRTC bans 30-day notice for cancelling TV, phone, internet

Canadians no longer have to give a 30-day notice to cancel or change their television, internet or landline telephone service, the CRTC says.

Telecom regulator removes requirement of having to give notice before cancelling service

The CRTC says it will forbid telecom companies from requiring 30 days' notice before a customer cancels or changes television, phone or internet service. (Ed Bailey/Associated Press)

Canadians no longer have to give a 30-day notice to cancel or change their television, internet or landline telephone service, the CRTC says.

In a release, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said it is "prohibiting television service providers from requiring that Canadians give 30 days' notice prior to cancelling these services."

It's the first decision to come out of the regulator's Let's Talk TV hearings, which was considering whether to allow some major changes to the way television is delivered to Canadians.

The CRTC says it will require cable companies to adhere to the new rule by Jan. 23. The regulator also says the same rule will apply to switching internet providers or phone services.

The CRTC previously implemented a similar rule for cellphone contracts when it rolled out Canada's wireless code last December.

"By prohibiting 30-day cancellation policies for television, internet and telephone (including voice over internet protocol) services, the CRTC has made it easier for individuals and small business customers to take advantage of a competitive marketplace by switching service providers," the regulator said in a release.

The decision came in part because the CRTC believes Canadians were frustrated with the 30-day rule, which applied even at the end of a contract term.

"Some consumers end up paying two companies for the same service as they transition from one provider to another," reads the release. That switch should make it easier for Canadians in a market where providers frequently change the plans they offer, the regulator reasoned.

'Switch whenever and however you want'

The decision is good news for consumers, says Greg O'Brien, editor and publisher of Cartt.ca — a telecom industry news site.

"It means you can switch whenever and however you want," he said.

The 30-day notice rule made sense in an analog cable world, O'Brien said, when the time was required for a truck to be dispatched to the house to do the work.

"With digital, it's a click of the mouse in head office," he said.

OpenMedia's campaigns manager Josh Tabish agreed this is a positive decision for Canadians who told the open internet watchdog that they were dissatisfied "with the lack of choice and flexibility in offerings," he said in a statement. 

This will allow consumers "to move between service providers more easily without being penalized."

But he called on CRTC to do more for Canadians.

"This is a significant step forward, but the CRTC still needs to take bold steps to ensure all Canadians can access a wider range of affordable independent options for telecom and media services."

O'Brien speculates consumers can expect the CRTC to continue releasing incremental decisions.

"There's definitely going to be pick and pay, and skinny basic [cable packages]," he predicted.

During the public consultations, much of the talk focused on the pick-and-pay model for cable television, which would give consumers more choice, rather than being locked into expensive bulk specialty channel packages.

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