IDG News Service - Verizon Wireless is violating U.S. Federal Communications Commission rules by blocking users from using third-party tethering applications on Android smartphones, media reform group Free Press said in a complaint to the FCC Monday.
Verizon, by asking Android maker Google to block third-party tethering apps, is ignoring FCC net neutrality conditions it agreed to when winning a large chunk of mobile broadband spectrum in 700MHz auctions in 2008, Free Press said in the complaint.
Tethering allows smartphone users to use the phones as a broadband modem for other devices, such as laptops, but Verizon and other carriers have asked Google to block third-party tethering apps, according to recent press reports.
Verizon, however, agreed to FCC net neutrality conditions on the C block of the 700MHz spectrum, when it paid $4.7 billion for the 22MHz swath of spectrum. The so-called open-access conditions required the winning bidder to allow users to bring devices from other carriers and to run the apps of their choosing.
Verizon's push to block tethering apps "deliberately and unequivocally violates" the FCC conditions on the C block, Free Press said in its complaint. Various news reports said Google had removed third-party tethering apps from the Android Market at Verizon's request, making it difficult for most Android users to find and install those apps, Free Press said.
Verizon spokesman Edward McFadden said Google manages the Android Market. "Verizon Wireless does not block applications available to its customers through the Android Market," he said.
When it introduced the Droid phone, Verizon charged $30 a month for its tethering service, in addition to $30 a month for its unlimited data plan, Free Press noted. Many tethering apps are free and others cost less than $15, the advocacy group said. Verizon plans to charge for tethering on its LTE network, which uses the 700MHz spectrum, after a free trial for customers.
"Mobile broadband providers have a financial stake in limiting access to third-party tethering applications," Aparna Sridhar, Free Press' policy counsel, wrote in the complaint.
Representatives of Google, which had pushed the FCC to include open-access conditions in the 700MHz auctions, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on the Free Press complaints.
Free Press asked the FCC to rule against the blocking of tethering apps.
Verizon had opposed the open-access conditions for the C block. "Having lost that policy battle yet successfully acquired the licenses subject to the policy, Verizon appears to have adopted a new regulatory strategy: simply ignore the federal rules once they have been adopted, and draft terms of service to contradict the federal rules with which it disagrees," Sridhar wrote. "If the commission's openness rules are to have any meaning, the FCC must act quickly to investigate Verizon's indiscriminate and arbitrary blocking of tethering applications."
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- 3 Steps to Content Sharing and Collaboration ft. Forrester Research Consumer sync and share tools help people access and send personal files, but smart IT leaders know that businesses require more than just...
- Empowering Your Mobile Workers A modern mobile IT strategy is no longer an option, it is an absolute necessity. Here's how some of the nation's most progressive...
- Omnichannel: From Buzzword to Strategy Customers demand a seamless experience across channels, especially mobile. Read this whitepaper for a research-based framework for using omnichannel for higher customer engagement.
- The 5 Big Lies About Going Mobile You've heard about the power of mobile to change your business. But have you realized your mobile potential? It's about much more than...
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Unmasking the Differences between Consumer and Enterprise File Sync & Share The consumerization of IT combined with the rapid pace of the modern mobile workplace is forcing enterprise IT teams to evaluate file sync...
- Live Webcast Workforce Mobilization for Improved Productivity A mobility research director from Aberdeen discusses reasons for extending legacy applications to mobile devices, and an integration strategist from Attachmate shows how...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of... All Mobile/Wireless White Papers | Webcasts
As emerging technologies evolve they often find an initial niche in highly specialized scenarios, or in specific industry verticals, before expanding to wider areas of applicability. Within these initial niches, the early adopters can be anything from digital enthusiasts to fashionistas, or they can be folks simply using the technology because it serves a specific need extremely well. (free registration required) more