updated 07:43 pm EDT, Tue July 31, 2012
Verizon can no longer block tethering apps
The Federal Communications Commission has ruled that Verizon cannot block tethering apps from being downloaded on phones running on its network. Further, the FCC fined Verizon $1.25 million and required that the carrier modify its data plan pricing model. The decision comes just over year after media reform advocates filed complaints, alleging that Verizon was violating spectrum agreements by blocking tethering apps from being downloaded.
Verizon had initially blocked customer access to Android apps allowing for phones to be turned into Wi-Fi hotspots, as such apps would allow customers to get around the $20 fee Verizon charges for such tethering capabilities. The move caused an uproar from some sectors, with groups claiming that Verizon's policy was not compliant with the "C Block rules" Verizon agreed to when purchasing spectrum for its LTE network. Those rules call for C Block licensees to allow customers to "freely use the devices and applications of their choosing."
Today's action calls for Verizon to voluntarily pay $1.25 million to the US Treasury. The carrier will also have to alter its terms of service and notify Google's Play Store that it no longer wishes for tethering apps to be blocked. Verizon customers on tiered data plans will no longer have to pay the $20 a month tethering fee, but the carrier can still charge the fee for customers on unlimited data plans. [via GigaOM]