The CRTC has started a week of public hearings for a proposed wireless code, with 3-year cellphone contracts dominating the agenda.

Held in Gatineau, Quebec from February 11-15, the regulator is determined to establish a set of national standards for the content and clarity of cellphone contracts.

"Our consultation has attracted a lot of attention right across the country. During the first phase, Canadians posted close to 600 comments on our online discussion forum and sent in over 3,500 written submissions. Among other things, they asked that contracts be written in easy-to-understand language, with no hidden fees," said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

The suggestions led to a draft code submitted in late January encouraging service providers to withdraw all services that may cause consumers to rack up additional fees once the total amount of extra fees reaches an amount set by the consumer, or in the absence of an amount set by the consumer, $50. The draft code also includes a provision for wireless carriers to provide consumers with an online tool, which will allow them to monitor any additional fees incurred within a billing cycle. Also, Canadians want clarity when it comes to advertised prices with sales tax costs and government-mandated fees clearly outlined.

Consumers also want the ability to unlock cellphones on reasonable terms, simplified roaming fees and easier means to exit a contract early that doesn't result in extra fees, charges or penalties other than the termination fee.

The CRTC is encouraging Canadians to participate in the hearings by posting comments in real time on its online discussion forum , which will remain open until 5PM Pacific Standard Time on Friday, February 15.

Canada's leading wireless providers including TELUS, Bell, Rogers, SaskTel and Quebecor are all scheduled to appear during the week long event.

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