Canadian telecoms made a total of $37.7 million last year by charging customers to unlock their cellphones. That's a whopping 75 per cent jump in this source of revenue compared to 2014.
Telecoms often order locked phones from manufacturers that are programmed to work only with their service. Then they charge a fee — typically $50 — to unlock the phone if a customer wants to switch providers.
The charge is unpopular with consumers. It has even been referred to it as a 'ransom fee.'
The unlocking revenue total was provided by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. The CRTC said it could not confirm the exact number of providers in the tally, other than to say, it was "up to seven."
It also wouldn't provide company names or the breakdown from each one. That's because the wireless carriers argued that releasing their unlocking revenues publicly would put them at a competitive disadvantage.
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