The FCC has told Verizon Wireless in a settlement that they can no longer block tethering apps from the Android marketplace. Verizon will pay the FCC $1.25 million as part of the settlement and customers on tiered data plans can not be charged (unlimited can). The FCC came to this decision because Verizon purchased spectrum in 2008 that required open access.
Verizon currently charges $20 a month for a mobile hotspot, or tethering fee. Applications available on the Android marketplace like FoxFi and PdaNet allowed Verizon customers to circumvent this charge and tether their data for no additional fee. Verizon blocked applications like those and then the FCC became involved due to the spectrum purchase. That spectrum must have open access and blocking data on it does not meet the open access requirement.
The Commission Document issued by the FCC can be summarized by the last paragraph of it:
Under the terms of today’s settlement, Verizon Wireless will make a voluntary payment to the Treasury
in the amount of $1.25 million, and has committed to notifying the application store operator that it no
longer objects to the availability of the tethering applications to C-Block network customers in the
operator’s online market. Verizon Wireless has also agreed to implement a compliance plan, requiring
- employees will receive training on compliance with the C Block rules;
- future communications with application store operators regarding the availability of applications to Verizon Wireless customers will be reviewed in advance by legal counsel
- Verizon will report any instances of noncompliance with the rule at issue that might occur during the two-year term of the plan.
- In addition, the company recently revised its service offerings such that consumers on usage-based pricing plans may tether, using any application, without paying an additional fee.