The FCC has released a statement today concerning its investigation into Verizon Wireless blocking access to applications (specifically tethering apps) for devices using the "C block" spectrum they use for LTE services. Under the terms of the settlement announced today, Verizon will be paying $1.25 million to the U.S. Treasury, and implement a "compliance" plan consisting of more training to ensure that they do not violate the C block rules in the future.
The issue stems from the rules of the C block auction, which Verizon bid on and won to get the spectrum they use for LTE. I won't bother going into all the numbers here, but the wavelength of the C block makes it a very desirable piece of the airwaves, and the FCC placed a mandate that the auction winner must allow customers to freely use devices and applications of their choosing when accessing the frequencies. Verizon had successfully blocked tethering apps from appearing in Google Play, including their LTE devices. This is against the rules, and the FCC had to take action.
There also are couple things here we need to keep in mind. Other carriers (hello, AT&T!) can block apps from the Play Store, as they didn't win the C block auction and don't have to follow those rules. The second is that while Verizon has to allow access to the applications, nothing was mentioned that said they had to allow free tethering on its LTE network. It can still block access server-side, or monitor accounts and charge users that download and use applications to tether. We're not sure what, if any, precautions Verizon is going to implement here, but before you celebrate by downloading Easy Tether and burning through a few GBs of data, keep in mind that few things in life are actually free.
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