Back when Verizon bid on the 700MHz C Block spectrum, it was understood that there were open device and application obligations. According to the FCC this means any licensees providing service on the C Block Spectrum “shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice on the licensee’s C Block network.” This C Block spectrum is what Verizon uses for its LTE network.
We have written about various tethering apps which allow you to connect your desktop or other devices to your phone via USB or WiFi in order to get an internet connection and use that data. As we know Verizon has always charged customers $20 per month for this privilege. Not only that, any tethering apps were generally blocked from the Google Play Store (formerly the Android Market) and other app stores.
The FCC has been investigating these practices and just released a $1.25 million consent decree with Verizon Wireless that resolves the investigation. The consent decree basically means that Verizon will pay the fine along with an agreement to stop restricting up to 11 tethering apps, and at the same time, they didn’t admit to any wrongdoing.
Interestingly enough, Verizon is no longer charging for tethering with their new Share Everything plans that started a little over a month ago. This still means that other customers that don’t have unlimited data will now have access to the tethering apps (only if they are LTE customers). Why not just allow for direct hot spots from the phone moving forward? As to customers that are grandfathered with unlimited data, Verizon will still be allowed to charge those customers the $20 per month fee, but I can’t see how they can block those customers from the free tethering apps. The remaining question is what happens to the data capped customers who paid the $20 per month over time. I smell a class action suit.