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