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

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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

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