This week Verizon has found itself under the legal gun for blocking tethering apps on Android and iOS devices, with the FCC fining them on top of it all for $1.25 million USD. This case appears to be forcing Verizon to adhere to Net Neutrality rules on its 700 MHz spectrum, thusly resulting in the company having to rescind its standing policy of blocking wireless tethering without an additional fee to its smart devices. The spectrum under investigation in this case is used to operate Verizon’s 4G LTE network.
This investigation states that it was unlawful for Verizon to request Google to remove applications in the Google Play store (up until recently the Android Market) that would otherwise allow users to access free tethering. Verizon has a $20 “tethering fee” per month for otherwise free internet access (with normal data fees applying) for non-Verizon devices. This means that you’d still be paying for the data you’re using, but Verizon wouldn’t get its extra $20 USD a month for your right to do so.
The FCC spoke on how rules for this spectrum, C Block of 700 MHz spectrum, say that offering service includes that Verizon “shall note deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use devices and applications of their choice on the licensee’s C Block network.” The first questioning Verizon had on this situation took place back when Verizon still offered unlimited data plans.
While the settlement Verizon faces today does not rule on 3G data, 4G LTE users will be able to use tethering apps without question forevermore. Unlimited data plan customers have not been included in the ruling at the moment it seems. The ruling does, however, say that Verizon must make a $1.25 million dollar payment to the Treasury and that they must notify (and they already have, apparently) Google that they no longer object to the tethering apps offered throughout the Google Play app store.