Tethering vs. LTE: Showdown Over Open Access

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We recently looked at the state of tethering on smartphones, discussing some of the reasons why carrier are so opposed to us sharing out smartphones’ data connections. We noted that one of trends happening now is for the networks to work with Google to block downloads of tethering apps for their subscribers. Verizon may be in hot water over such a move, according to an FCC complaint filed by advocacy group Free Press.

While Verizon isn’t alone in its users being restricted from downloading tethering apps, it has one special difference from the other carriers: the rules it had to agree to when buying the rights to use the 700MHz band over which it deploys LTE. Part of the conditions include the stipulation that it not “deny, limit, or restrict the ability of… customers to use the devices and applications of their choice”.

It’s hard to argue that, even when work-arounds exist, blocking tethering apps consists of something other than limiting access to the applications of the user’s choice. So far, neither Verizon nor Google have admitted ultimate responsibility for blocking such apps, but if the FCC looks into this, no one will be surprised to hear about Verizon giving the order. Will Verizon just have to raise LTE rates, making everyone eat the cost of lost tethering income? We love the flexibility tethering and WiFi hotspots afford us, so we’re very interested in seeing how this dispute plays out.

Source: Ars Technica

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bitsRead more about Stephen Schenck!