The CRTC on SIM-unlocking

I caught something on Twitter yesterday that has me more than a bit confused. As you may or may not know, this week the CRTC conducted a public hearing this week in review of Canada’s Wireless Code. The following excerpt from the hearing was tweeted as a graphic—I did a copy/paste straight from the official transcript.

For reference, THE CHAIRPERSON is CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais and MS. CARSTEN is Rhonda Carsten, Director of Wireless Marketing for SaskTel.

4180 THE CHAIRPERSON: Would you agree with me that if phones were more readily unlocked, a consumer rather than getting this $3 a day package from you for roaming in the United States or perhaps a higher price for roaming elsewhere could actually insert a SIM card from a foreign carrier?

4181 MS. CARSTEN: We do as part of our process that we communicate to customers when they contact us with regards to international roaming and the rates, we do make it available to them to unlock their device. There is that fee associated with it but it is a one-time fee and it is a permanent unlock for that device so that they can do exactly what you reference by picking up a SIM in an international destination and utilizing those local rates that would be cheaper for them.

4182 THE CHAIRPERSON: So how much is that unlocking fee?

4183 MS. CARSTEN: It’s the same fee.

4184 THE CHAIRPERSON: So $50?

4185 MS. CARSTEN: One time based on the same cost structure that we will provide you with information about.

4186 THE CHAIRPERSON: So if in December 2016 I was going down to the United States on holidays I’d pay $50 and if I was going 3 months later again and I want to use a SIM card option to manage my fees I’d have to pay another $50; is that correct?

4187 MS. CARSTEN: No, no, you only pay the one time and then that device is unlocked. And every subsequent trip you make, regardless of what country you go to, you don’t have to pay again to unlock that device. It’s permanently unlocked.

4188 THE CHAIRPERSON: Even in Canada?

4189 MS. CARSTEN: Yes.

4190 THE CHAIRPERSON: So it’s not just a roaming option. You’d be unlocked forever?

4191 MS. CARSTEN: Correct.

TL;DR The CRTC doesn’t know what SIM-unlocking is…?

Granted, the person who tweeted this is a known shill for Canada’s Big Three carriers, and may well have cherry-picked this specific exchange to make the CRTC look bad. A reply to the tweet additionally pointed out that Mr. Blais in that moment might have been deliberately pedantic—”playing dumb”—to get what might seem like obvious details about SIM-unlocking on record.

I certainly hope that’s the case. If Canada’s regulatory telecommunications body doesn’t understand a core technology of mobile phones, we’re in for a bad time.

For more on the public hearing see additional comments in this thread.

Source: CRTC Transcripts via an industry apologist on Twitter