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Verizon fined $1.25 million by the FCC over tethering app removal

Posted: , by Scott H.

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Verizon fined $1.25 million by the FCC over tethering app removal
One of the new features that excited Android fans about Froyo (Android 2.2) back in the day was the Wi-Fi tethering that was built in to the operating system. For most U.S. users that excitement was short-lived, as the major carriers announced their intention to strip out the feature and install their own – one that would require paying extra to use. Many users took issue with having to pay a monthly fee to re-enable a feature, especially since those that had signed up for unlimited data plans - and the pain continued for iPhone users and any other platform that introduced a tethering option.

While the FCC doesn’t much care about the “unlimited plan” part (that sort of marketing fluff is inevitably undercut by wording in the actual contract that you sign), Verizon at least did run afoul of FCC rules in their zeal to force you to pay them an extra $20 a month. They required Google to yank several tethering apps from the Android Market (as it was called back then) when accessed by Verizon phones, and punished some users who side-loaded tethering apps. Google complied, but savvy users noted that this violated the open access requirements that Verizon agreed to when they purchased their C Block bandwidth a few years ago. Specifically the part that reads:

Licensees offering service on spectrum subject to this section 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...

As a result of the violation, the FCC fined Verizon $1.25 million, and is requiring the creation of a compliance team at Verizon to ensure that their network policies don’t violate FCC rules in the future. Of course now Verizon is essentially forcing everyone off of unlimited plans, and has stopped charging for tethering with the advent of their share-everything plans.

So in the end consumers don’t get much more than satisfaction out of this ruling – unless the new compliance group really does stop Verizon from being so overbearing with their app rules. Given the weak slap-on-the-wrist impact of a million dollars and change to Big Red’s bottom line, we doubt they will think twice about making a change if they think it will help their bottom line, regardless of what the FCC thinks.

source : FCC via The Verge

30 Comments
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posted on 31 Jul 2012, 15:33 7

1. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3515; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


It's progress. Maybe this will make the "BIG" carriers, HECK all carriers think twice about pulling fast ones on their customers. Now if the FCC could do something about those prices. lol Wishful thinking on my part. lol

posted on 01 Aug 2012, 02:56

20. Mxyzptlk (limited) (Posts: 2846; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


How is it a fast one? People tether their data connections and abuse it. That is why unlimited data is as dead as the dodo. You signed a contract to use their service for the phone you sound under and agreed to. If you want to share your data connection then you should pony up and pay for it.

posted on 01 Aug 2012, 09:14 1

23. atlvideoguy (Posts: 26; Member since: 24 Feb 2012)


Unlimited data is dead because Carriers needed another source of revenue. Carriers can and will throttle users that abuse their network. I'm not an ill customer I pay for unlimited smartphone data plus unlimited hotspot data!

posted on 02 Aug 2012, 14:42 1

29. iami67 (Posts: 314; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


If i am paying for data to come to my phone then what I do with it when it gets there is my bussines and no one elses. If the phone has capabilities to send the single elsewhere then I should be able too. I did not sign a contract that says i purchsed this to use this way and only this way show me where in the contract it says that buddy

posted on 31 Jul 2012, 15:33 9

2. cepcamba (Posts: 717; Member since: 27 Feb 2012)


$1.25M is pennies for Verizon.

posted on 31 Jul 2012, 15:46 1

6. SonyFTW2020 (Posts: 305; Member since: 03 May 2012)


pennies add up...

posted on 02 Aug 2012, 14:42

30. iami67 (Posts: 314; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


not when they made over 3.8 billion this quarter in profit

posted on 31 Jul 2012, 16:13 4

7. PAPINYC (Posts: 2044; Member since: 30 Jul 2011)


Verizon can certainly afford this. In fact, they can even afford AT&T's payoff to T-Mobile for botching their buy-out.

posted on 31 Jul 2012, 19:15 1

12. miles16852 (Posts: 189; Member since: 20 Oct 2011)


So could Bill Gates! whats your point!

posted on 31 Jul 2012, 19:14 4

11. miles16852 (Posts: 189; Member since: 20 Oct 2011)


Should have been $125million...

posted on 31 Jul 2012, 23:54 5

17. cepcamba (Posts: 717; Member since: 27 Feb 2012)


Make it more than a billion and they'll never do it again :)

posted on 31 Jul 2012, 15:39 2

3. Tux4g63 (Posts: 114; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)


Does anyone know if this in turn can be used as the basis for consumers to advocate or pursue civil action to recoup fees and costs that were then charged to them by Verizon in lieu of using the built in tethering feature back in the day?

posted on 31 Jul 2012, 15:42 1

4. Synack (Posts: 641; Member since: 05 Jul 2011)


Sorry I'm not satisfied that my UNLIMITED DATA is going away. And I've always tethered regardless of what Verizon seems to do.

posted on 31 Jul 2012, 15:46 3

5. ap1989 (Posts: 143; Member since: 12 Oct 2011)


Go FCC! Fine them for removing Google Wallet on the galaxy nexus and for not releasing OTA updates quick enough such as android 4.0.4 and now Jelly Bean 4.1.1

posted on 31 Jul 2012, 16:21 2

8. MartyK (Posts: 669; Member since: 11 Apr 2012)


So, Verizon knew it couldn't charge it's customers for Wi-Fi tethering?.

This explain why they got rid of the unlimited data plan!!..

This is so wrong!.

posted on 01 Aug 2012, 09:17 2

24. atlvideoguy (Posts: 26; Member since: 24 Feb 2012)


Verizon killed unlimited data plans for another source of revenue to show they're investors a better profit line.

posted on 31 Jul 2012, 17:48

9. joseg81 (Posts: 154; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)


t-mobile still pulls that BS...i wonder why they let them do that.

posted on 01 Aug 2012, 01:15

18. drum009 (Posts: 33; Member since: 23 Jan 2012)


I may be wrong, but from what I remember it only applies to Verizon. When the FCC auctioned off the bandwith verizon won the bid on "block c". Fortunately, Google had a had in establishing some of the guidelines that must be followed while using block C spectrum (see reference in article ). ... block C only holds verizon's LTE network and not their 3g. So I guess technically only their 4g LTE network comes with no tampering but their 3g is fair game.

posted on 02 Aug 2012, 14:44

31. iami67 (Posts: 314; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


tmobile is the worse. If you upgrade to a android then break your phone 6 months in and go back to your basic no data phone tmobile says you still have to pay that extra 30 a month to contract is over

posted on 31 Jul 2012, 18:27 1

10. EclipseGSX (Posts: 1471; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


A slap on the wrist like the picture suggests

posted on 31 Jul 2012, 20:59 2

14. dsDoan (Posts: 212; Member since: 28 Dec 2011)


If it was illegal for Verizon to charge for tethering, why are they not forced to reimburse everyone who paid for the service? They, no doubt, made much more than $1.25 million from this.

Also, does this mean that current unlimited data plans should now be able to tether without being charged?

posted on 31 Jul 2012, 22:21

15. ziggiec (Posts: 10; Member since: 21 Feb 2012)


Should have been $1.25 billion

posted on 31 Jul 2012, 23:26 1

16. Mr_Carter2 (Posts: 10; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


I'm confused. Can we tether with the stock, Verizon mobile hotspot app or do we have to download a third party tethering app from the play store to tether for free?

posted on 01 Aug 2012, 01:25 2

19. saspcguy (Posts: 17; Member since: 02 Aug 2011)


FoxFi: check
EasyTether USB sideloaded: check
Unlimited Data: check
Imminent 4G LTE in my area: check

Big grin on face: check

posted on 01 Aug 2012, 02:57

21. Mxyzptlk (limited) (Posts: 2846; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


Verizon can cut your service off at any time for unauthorized usage: Check

posted on 01 Aug 2012, 08:56

22. Owlet (Posts: 445; Member since: 21 Feb 2011)


Nah, it can't.

posted on 01 Aug 2012, 15:12

26. Mxyzptlk (limited) (Posts: 2846; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


Yeah they can.

posted on 01 Aug 2012, 18:32

27. saspcguy (Posts: 17; Member since: 02 Aug 2011)


I've never topped 3GB in a month, so unless I develop a craving for playing WoW with insane latency or I tap my phone for Usenet, I think I'll be OK.

posted on 01 Aug 2012, 18:32

28. saspcguy (Posts: 17; Member since: 02 Aug 2011)


Plus it turns out that the FCC ruling still allows the $20 tethering fee for Unlimiteds.

posted on 01 Aug 2012, 09:21 1

25. atlvideoguy (Posts: 26; Member since: 24 Feb 2012)


I pay for Verizons hotspot feature but was using PDAnet and FOXFi for a little while because verizons hotspot hot software issues. With ice cream sandwich update for droid razr maxx that fixed the hotspot issue.

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