Rogers wants more time to implement new wireless code rules on data, roaming overage fees

Rogers Communications Inc. wants more time to implement new rules that outline how wireless providers must alert customers that exceed data or roaming caps, arguing it’s impossible to make the changes by the Dec. 1 deadline.

Canada’s largest wireless provider applied to the federal telecom regulator last week for a six-month extension to comply with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s updated wireless code, which seeks to limit unexpected overage charges and banned device unlocking fees.

In June, the CRTC updated the code to clarify overage rules for shared plans, which were facing complaints from parents shocked that their teens had consented to massive data overage fees. The original code, which also killed three-year contracts, limited data and roaming overage fees to $50 and $100 per month, respectively, unless if a user consented to pay more.

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The new code stipulates the account holder, not the device holder, must consent to additional overage fees, which apply per account, not per device. Device holders can only consent to extra fees if the account holder explicitly gives them permission.

While Rogers “appreciates the spirit” of the changes and will implement most of them immediately, including the elimination of device unlocking fees, it said it does not have enough time to update billing systems to fully comply with overage notifications. It asked for an extension until May 31, 2018.

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At issue is how it will deal with accounts that include single plans and shared plans. Rogers’ application stated that its systems are not sophisticated enough to accommodate multiple data buckets. It’s upgrading its systems to do so, and building a self-serve system for customers to manage which users can consent to overage fees.

The new rules also require wireless providers to include data top-ups in the $50 data cap and pay-per-use travel packs in the $100 roaming cap. But Rogers’ system treats top-ups and travel packs completely separately from overage. Since it cannot predict how many customers may roam in any given month, it would have to manually monitor all 10 million subscribers to meet this requirement.

“Not only would this require a crippling amount of resource and manpower at the busiest time of the year, it would delay bills being sent to customers,” its application stated.

Rogers said it will be able to apply the new rules to all but a small proportion of customers, but it did not reveal how many. It will credit any customer who receives data charges that exceed the new data caps, it said, although customers will have to pay close attention to see if their bills are affected.

“We appreciate that the provisions related to bill management are central to increased consumer protection from unintended data charges and we are committed to complying with them,” Rogers application stated.

The CRTC expedited its application, although it did not promise to make a decision by Dec. 1.

BCE Inc.’s Bell Mobility is still in the process of implementing changes to its systems as well, a spokesman said in an email. Bell supports Rogers application. Source

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