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Tethering Complaint Filed Against Verizon with FCC by Free Press

Oh baby.  The blocking of tethering apps by Verizon just got very real after a complaint was filed today through the FCC by Free Press which could potentially impact the future of LTE.  This has been one of those hot subjects around Droid Life over the last few weeks, so we couldn’t help but smile a little when we saw a group of this magnitude taking it straight to the top.

As you may recall, we first reported news that tethering apps had either been removed or purposefully blocked from being viewed and downloaded to Verizon devices.  The move wasn’t necessarily a surprise since we know that Verizon likes to force you into purchasing an additional mobile hotspot service on top of your data plan, but the move was bold.  And then just last week we noticed that even if you had managed to load up a third party app from outside the market to tether, that Verizon was blocking you from doing so.

People grew angry at this for a number of reasons – and the complaint filed today by Free Press pretty much touches on them all.  

We pulled some points out to highlight the arguments they have given to the FCC over blocking tethering apps on LTE (which is where their arguments stands strongest):

  • Verizon’s actions in cutting off access to tethering applications unlawfully “limit” and“restrict the ability” of its customers “to use the devices and applications of their choice.” This practice [blocking tethering apps] restricts consumer choice and hinders innovation regardless of which carrier adopts such policies, but when Verizon Wireless employs these restrictions in connection with its LTE network, it also violates the Federal Communications Commission’s rules.  When Verizon purchased the spectrum licenses associated with its LTE network, it agreed that it would not “deny, limit, or restrict” the ability of its users to access the applications and devices of their choosing.
  • Removing applications from the Android Market severely limits and restricts their distribution. Removing [tethering] applications from the Android Market severely restricts their use.  [Meaning they are harder to find than other apps in the market, therefore are not as easily available as all apps should be.]
  • Mobile broadband providers, including Verizon, offer their own expensive tetheringservices that compete with the free and low-cost options offered in the Android Market. Mobile broadband providers have a financial stake in limiting access to third-party tethering applications. As noted above, many tethering applications are available for free or for a modest fee.  By contrast, when Verizon introduced the Droid, it charged $30 per month for tethering service on top of its $30 per month “unlimited” data plan.

I don’t know that I would get overly excited about this news just yet, but at the same time, we’ll all be wanting to pay close attention to how this unfolds.  I will say though that not only would a ruling to either side by the FCC change the way data is handled on Verizon, it would also likely change the entire smartphone industry in the U.S.

Some thoughts that come to my mind immediately are:

  • Let’s say the FCC tells Verizon it can no longer force us into mobile hotspot plans.  What does that do to our monthly data  bills?  We were already expecting higher data prices this summer with LTE, but can you imagine what they would look like if tethering became uncontrolled?
  • And what if the FCC says, “We think Verizon is fine in doing this.”  Good bye tethering for life.

So, what do you guys think?

Via:  Free Press [PDF], PCWorld

Cheers Corey!

  • john

    verizon locked up and ruined my samsung when tried to use a hot spot app im not even a cutomer anymore they said it was because my # is old vzw # and its net10 problem some one needs to stop vzw unlawful controll of network.

  • jmakingmecrazy

    lets not lose focus on the issue. Streaming video and whatever we choose to use for data is our issue as we will pay if we exceed the allowable amount. We should be able to use the data we paid for any way shape or form we choose. I will provide a signature and many more if a petition is established.. Being a systems integrator for ALL the major carriers, this is a known issue throughout (except for Sprint) but let’s not go there.. you are better off without using Sprint for a phone, let alone-a data plan.

  • Davidjruckman

    I had purchased a Verizon DROIDx phone over a year ago with the express purpose of using it to tether to my GPS and to assist me where mt present ATT phone does not have good coverage. As a professional Land Surveyor I use my GPS every day with my ATT phone. I have been to the Verizon store numerous times to fix the problem and I am paying a tethering fee but am still unable to achieve tethering. Last week at another Verizon store they agreed to send me a new DROIDX to replace my supposedly defective phone. I recieved the new phone and returned to my GPS Dealer to try again to achive tether but we were unable to do so. My dealer has the same DROIDX phone and his achieves tethering via PDANet without a tethering fee in his plan.The new replacement phone still does not achieve the tethering link even though I am being charged for this service. I must now assume that Verizon has some blocking  device in place on my phone and today I am  again traveling to the Verizon store to demand a refund and cancel my service with them.

  • double T

    Back in the 70′s Ma Bell tryed to charge for how many phones they had in their home. How you use your phone to view data should be left up to the user. If the user took up more bandwidth then the company should be left able to charge more. They shouldn’t be able to charge for how much data you view. This would means that freedom of expression and speech is not free at all. But back to the 70′s. The dulling was that the dmark on theyour side of theit house was asyou far as Ma-bell could go. This is the same principal. And thus presidents has been set. The have taken these moneys wrongfully

  • uh60a

    Well I have to  be fair about this.  Is it costing Vorizon resources or anything extra to allow the free tethering other than just making a huge profit?  If the answer to that is no then I beleive they are wrong to want to charge paying customers for a service we are already paying for.  If the answer is yes than I would pay a fair and reasonable price for a tethering service.  That being said, 30$ dollers a month for 5g’s is not by any means fair.

  • Anonymous

    Verizon should allow hotspot for free but when you use it it should turn off the ability to use the phones browser or data and only allow one user as the hotspot. That way there are no multiples using the same data connection. Problem solved. It will be like using your phone but you will being tethering to your laptop. 

  • Clark

    I guess complaining to the FCC is fine… if you like big government.  Whenever we take a case to the FCC, we are asking for more government involvement.  Instead, why don’t we just vote with our wallets, or our creativity and keep government out of it!? 

    Verizon doesn’t owe you/me/us anything!  Believe me, nobody wants free Mobile Hotspot more than myself.  I also want the fancy house down the street from mine.  That doesn’t mean my neighbor has to give it to me.  Just because Verizon has the best network, doesn’t mean they have to GIVE it to us.  You also have the right to choose another carrier.

    If you don’t like a company’s products, policies and prices, then you don’t have to buy them.  Pure and simple.  What if we all ran to the government, like spoiled children running to daddy when our sibling won’t share his birthday gifts.  It’s ideal to share.  Those who share always find out how much nicer life can be.  But it’s certainly not REQUIRED of any corporation (or birthday boy for that matter).  It’s THEIR toy and if you want to play with it, you can ask nicely, and/or pay to use it.  Or you can find a cheaper, better (fill in your own adjective) network.

    Let’s face it, smartphones are nice to have.  But if you are complaining about this stuff, you really don’t NEED a smartphone with a dataplan.  We are always happy to pay for food, right?  We happily pay our rent, mortgage and car-payments.  We even cough it up at the gas pump.  Because we NEED those things.  If you do nothing with your smart phone but play Angry Birds, Facebook and download obscene amounts of fantasy football stats and YouTube videos, you’re angry because you now have to start paying for massive amounts of nothing!  If, on the other hand, you use your smartphone for smart things, education, business or powerful communications beyond phone calls, then an additional $50/mo (data + mobile hotspot) is well worth the price for the value such a technological marvel adds to your life.

    If those things aren’t important enough to a large enough audience, Verizon will lose customers and money and Verizon will re-think their strategy.  It comes down to how much we value that data plan, or that mobile hotspot.

    When I travel on business once or twice a year, tethering (if not mobile hotspotting) is well worth the price.  When I get home — back to my cable internet connection — mobile hotspot is not worth the money, so I call Verizon and turn it off.  If Verizon wanted to make more money from me annually, they could charge $5/mo for mobile hotspot and I’d probably leave it on year-round (they would then make $60 instead of the $20 or $40 they might make from me all year long).  But that’s for them to get figured out.

    I haven’t stepped in line for a Droid Bionic, yet.  It would be nice to have.  It’s feature-set makes a geek like me salivate.  If it holds a true VALUE of $249 FOR YOU, then you’ve probably already got yours.  But until the price is $149, it just isn’t worth the cost TO ME.    Now to which government agency can I complain so that they’ll slap Verizon with a fine for having the audacity to make me pay for a phone!

  • http://profiles.google.com/arther.casillas Arther Casillas

    data is data. voip ,texting,vm,mms is all data. just because it is itemized doesnt change that. unlimited is unlimited. Im no longer in contract and feel free to choose a carrier based soley on their merits. so far v has the best call quality which i can get with and basic $100 clamshell phone no contract  And burn my money on a nice tab. 
    My form of petioning is going the google experience way and finding a carrier that offers unadulted android experience. peace out cash cows.

  • robersondonnie

    Thanks for the info. Have argued with Verizon for over 15 months before giving in and paying the additional charge, and I have been with them since 05. Tired of feeling ripped off but want good coverage. Would appreciate any advice. Driver over the road, so service is a must. Thanks Again, Donnie

  • http://www.facebook.com/DCasper Dustin Casper

    I said it once, I’ll say it again. 

    “What is the difference between using the internet on your phone versus your laptop?”

    Its still the same data travelling through the 3G or LTE networks. NOTHING changes. Since the data rate is the same no matter what, let’s use 3G for an example, 130~Kb/s…playing a game or streaming online media would not differ from Phone or Laptop. So why everyone is complaining about “Uncontrolled Tethering” is beyond me.

    EDIT: RE: Tethering packages
    Those are complete JOKE. I can use up 2GB of data in a heartbeat. With the availability of flash now on our phones, it makes me laugh to think they are trying to scam their customers like this. Your phone can easily use 2GB of data WITHOUT YOU EVEN USING YOUR PHONE! (ie: market updates, verizon apps, etc.).

  • Pmsprunger

    If the fcc sides with Free Press, We will see the “unlimited” term disappear from the smartphone data plan.
    This lawsuit won’t help us. Instead it will force Verizon’s hand to tiered pricing on data. Hence we all loose out.
    The bottom line is that Verizon built the infrastructure to provide us with Data. They have every right to control the amount of data we receive.
     The cable and satellite companies control what channels you watch based on how much you pay, regardless of the fact that the premium channels are piped to you already and then filtered out at your tv set box. Its still illegal to tamper with the signal to receive a channel your not paying for.
    Its just wishful thinking to expect unlimited data that was purchased exclusively for the smartphone  to be applied to your pc without any additional fee.
     But I will keep wishfully thinking anyways.

  • Jai

    Thanks everyone for your retarded comments. They have been very entertaining to read. Teenagers think they know everything.

  • me

    i think VZW should take the plunger out their asses and stop being tightwads!

  • Beasthunt

    Unlimited is unlimited. I pay 30 bucks for unlimited the damn it, it should be unlimited no matter how I decide to use it. Only an idiot would argue with that. If not then let’s sue for false advertisement. There is no way possible you can agree with charging 30 for unlimited service then another amount the same price or greater to share a tiny bit of your already paid for unlimited service, to another device. It’s ludicrous and absurd. Good job to big red for such shrewd techniques but shame on the rest of a so called intelligent country for putting up with such nonsense.

  • Noz17712

    Next thing they’ll find a way to block out netflix altogether.

  • NUmber1pain07

    My PDA Net app Finnaly released an update that Verizon was blocking 2 day ago :)

  • Tpeter

    First off, I have a problem with VZ (or any carrier) hobbling
    your phone’s capabilities in the interest of extorting more money from users.
    Speaking for the Droid-X, it has tethering capability built in, so if VZ is
    selling you a data plan, what difference does it make how you use the data.
    When you go to a restaurant and order a meal, you are delivered a plate of
    food, a knife, fork and spoon. Nobody mandates that you eat using the fork and
    if you use the spoon, it’s $20 extra. You pay for what’s on the plate and you
    eat how you see fit. If you want more food, you pay for another plate. So, why
    can’t the telcos market their data plans in a similar fashion? Everything emanating
    from a phone is data anyway, so why are the telco’s hell bent on distinguishing
    whether it’s voice, computer or otherwise. It’s about time that the Neanderthals
    leave the room and someone starts using some fundamental common sense.

    • Jarom Wilson

      Its called Wireless Spectrum. When you start your own wireless company and have to pay for said Spectrum, you can start pissing and moaning about all the money you are loosing on people ” Overloading ” your capacity. ( Just like AT&T ) The wireless services are not unlimited, hence the reason they charge more for you using more then just your phone for Wireless Data Services. and your food analogy is flawed. You pay extra for drinks. Minute usage is a must, texting, data, insurance are all extra. 

  • Jarom Wilson

    This will come down to the ” Terms & Conditions ” every Verizon customer accepted when starting service. Since most of the tethering apps require root its in violation of the Terms of Agreement ” (d) modify your device from its manufacturer’s specifications; ” 

  • http://twitter.com/mikeszekely Mike Szekely

    Mobile data’s really a con.  I mean, I pay for cable internet in my apartment.  I pay Comcast for it once, and I can use it on my three desktops, my laptop, my wife’s laptop, Xbox 360, PS3, iPad, my Thunderbolt, and my wife’s Incredible.  Meanwhile, Verizon practically gets rid of any phone that isn’t a smartphone, charges me for data on my phone, then charges me again for data on the wife’s phone.  Sure, we can share minutes, but heaven help us if we share data.  Then Verizon wants to charge me for a third data plan if I want to tether my iPad to my phone.  If I’m going to browse the same sites either way, it’s not like I’m using extra bandwidth, here.  Unlimited data… with limits.

    • Custom Colonel

      you’re an idiot if you can’t comprehend that a mobile data plan doesn’t equate to having internet for all your devices.

  • Poker4400

    How can verizon put a advertisement on tv saying to stream movies to your tv with your phone. Then card you for streaming data to your comuter?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10736316 Stephen Ayres

    Uhh.. Something weird is happening. When I try to browse to Droid-Life.com on my DroidX using Dolphin browser, I am automatically redirected to dunsp.vzw.com/NewSelfProvisioning/SelfProvisioning.com

    is this a known issue?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10736316 Stephen Ayres

      actually, if i try to go to any website, i am now redirected…? is it because i installed the wireless tether apk?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10736316 Stephen Ayres

        nevermind, fixed it by restarting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lex-Calder/693951372 Lex Calder

    Pay for it; it’s a service, and the framework for this service is maintained and provided by the company.  It’s not a red cross on the sign, it’s a red check mark.  This is a for profit company, not a hand out.  There is cost and there is value.  If you value the tethering of your phone via a Mobile Hotspot feature enough, then you will pay for it. 

  • Rew6718

    Im so tired of reading peoples comments defending the billion dollar company that touts unlimited data when they sell a plan,and then claims that I’m stealing it if i tether. Its not the old apartment style “run the coax from your apartment to mine” theft of cable service. I’m paying for data that I use. Its not my only form of internet. Also, remember the old government need to get people over to digital TV? That was for these companies to bring “inexpensive broadband” to rural America. So, our taxpayers paid for their spectrum, or at least to free it up. Don’t call me a thief for using something I pay for the way I want to use it when it should be free, based on the term, unlimited. What is next, telling us what types of data we can access from these devices?

  • skinja

    It should really be stressed that VZW uses the public spectrum. We OWN that spectrum. And VZW agreed to certain rules when it leased said spectrum.  VZW is using public property.

  • Decible3285

    Call me crazy, but isn’t this one of the things that Verizon is notorious for that most people complain about again and again? 

    Verizon has a history of crippling phones in an attempt to maximize profits for so called “premium” services- bluetooth, gps, and now tethering. In each case, the masses (as well as the legal status quo) have stepped up and fought with Verizon to free up their devices to these services. 

    Verizon might not make tethering “free” but they very well could be forced to stop blocking access to features designed into the phones they choose to purchase… again.

     

  • http://nottheeternaltao.blogspot.com/ jimstoic

    There are options other than “yes to all tethering” and “no to all tethering.”

    If every phone data plan had a maximum, and you could reach that maximum with or without tethering–we could tether, and Verizon could still sell it’s hotspots for people who want to transfer more data than the phone-only plans permit.

    Or, they could continue to offer an unlimited phone data plan, but not permit tethering on that plan, while permitting it on plans with maximums.

    Or they could include X amount or X percent of tethering on all data plans.

  • Guest

    One point that there missing is that the “free and low-cost options” from the marketplace are not using there own internet service. They are using Verizon’s data connection. I understand you pay for unlimited data you should get unlimited data but what your paying for is unlimited data on your phone not on your computer. I use wireless tether myself and would really miss it if they were able to block it completely. there is usually always a work around though.

    Personally on my home internet connection I probably download 15+ gb a month. I don’t tether very much because I usually always have a faster wifi connection available and use that, so my phone will reach around 700mb-1gb a month. Computers are going to use alot more data than a smart phone and would put a serious strain on the network if Verizon Wireless became a home internet provider as well because people use their 30$ data packages phone data for home internet. If I had a LTE phone and was getting 11-14 mb/s download and 2-3 upload and was only paying 30$ a month for it. I might consider dropping my 20 mb dsl line and just using my phone tethered to my computer. 

    Also I work for Verizon Wireless tech support but I don’t think that would make me biased, I could give two shits about them. I do enjoy the 25% discount though

  • http://twitter.com/vdefender Taylor A.

    I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I would much rather have a data cap that I get to choose, and then be able to use that data anyway I see fit. If I wan’t to tether and stream 5 HD netflix movies for my monthy data, so be it. As long as verizon provides reasonably priced data caps for instance. For $30 a month, I think a 20GB is reasonable. Comcast charges $50 a month for 250GB.

  • neener

    They’re billing twice for the same service, we just extend it to a different device. They should be forbidden from double dipping. If they want to charge more like a greedy bunch of asses, that’s fine too, I’ll take my business elsewhere. Screw ‘em.

  • Anonymous

    It’s simple. When everybody has had enough of the BS, they stop using the service. Supply and demand folks. Decrease the demand, prices fall and bonuses happen. The more you feed the beast, the less it will be satiated and the more it will want. *end soapbox

  • Kalric

    What I would like to see is the amount of bandwidth Verizon has available for mobile use, the amount that is ACTUALLY being used and compare what they are saying about the availability of bandwidth for all.

    I have a feeling this is just motivated by GREED.   They’re selling phones that have Netflix pre-installed, apps that stream video and audio yet you have to pay out the ass to use them.

    Class action lawsuit is what I see coming.   If you’re going to sell a device that USES data that YOU provide, then don’t charge me extra to use that feature.  Otherwise stop selling the devices, or come up with a cap that someone that streams video/audio can’t possibly hit in a month.

    Just bought the LG Revolution for the Netflix app…already at 7.5GB and climbing.

    S

  • PAUL

    root…nuff said

    • Custom Colonel

      tiers…nuff said.

  • Custom Colonel
  • Custom Colonel
  • Anonymous

    My opinion on this is: Go ahead and tier my data plan, but let me use that data as “I” see fit.
    If I can’t tether, I can’t work. If I somehow use more data by tethering (which is a very small amount) so be it.
    I’m paying for it.  Let me use it.