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Verizon Answering to FCC Over Nexus 7 "Block"

By - Source: Ars Technica | B 19 comments

Verizon is supposedly violating open access rules by not supporting the new Nexus 7 4G LTE tablet.

At the end of July, Google launched the Wi-Fi version of its new Nexus 7 (2013) tablet. The company didn't release the 4G LTE model until last week, which was quickly scooped up well-known journalist and professor Jeff Jarvis. Wanting to connect it to his Verizon Wireless account, he took the device to a local Big Red store. Verizon reps said it wasn't possible because the IMEI numbers weren't added to Verizon's system.

"I'm excited you got your Nexus 7 but not all LTE tablets are created equal. It's not part of our line up & can't be activated," Verizon's official support account on Twitter told him.

Funny thing is, the tablet does work on Verizon's network. He pulled the SIM card out of his Chromebook Pixel and shoved it into the tablet. The only drawback in this scenario is that he couldn't use both devices simultaneously. Even more, other new Nexus 7 2013 tablet owners have gotten the tablet to (unofficially) work on the Big Red's network. Suspecting foul play, he decided to file a complaint with the FCC.

Why? Because of the open access rules that accompanied Verizon's acquisition of the 700 MHz C Block spectrum in 2008. Owners of this slice "shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice." Verizon is clearly violating FCC regulations – regulations that even Verizon VP Jim Gerace had to acknowledge in a public policy blog during the spectrum acquisition.

Gerace's statement was in response to a "tough letter" from Google at the time, who demanded that the FCC force Verizon to abide by the rules. "And no wonder, for Google anticipated precisely this situation when it entered the spectrum auction Verizon won and insisted then on open access as an FCC condition of the sale: Google ended up marketing an unlocked device made to run on Verizon’s LTE network and now Verizon refuses to honor its promise to abide by the rules of its auction to do so," Jarvis writes.

Jarvis told the FCC in his complaint that "Verizon is refusing to connect my tablet though it has been approved by the FCC and is compliant with standards such that it is also being offered and being activated on AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s LTE networks." He also claims that Verizon requires that he purchase the tablet from the company, which is a clear violation.

In Verizon's defense to the FCC, the company said that owners of the tablet need to be patient. "Google announced in July that this tablet will run on the Verizon Wireless network," the company states. "The manufacturer of the Nexus 7 subsequently submitted the device for our certification process in August, and that process has proceeded apace. In fact, we expect final certification of the device will come shortly. Once the device is certified, we will work with Google to enable the device to be activated on our 4G LTE network within a matter of days."

Yet something smells fishy. Verizon Wireless acts like it had no clue about the tablet's connectivity until July when the device was announced, and didn't receive the tablet for testing until last month. The device clearly works on AT&T and T-Mobile out-of-the-box, so why not Verizon too? Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood indicates that the delay may be due to the certification process related to Verizon's open access requirement – AT&T and T-Mobile don't have this requirement.

"Verizon's certification process for third-party devices like the Google Nexus 7 is a straightforward way to ensure that devices attached to the Verizon Wireless network do not harm the network or other users," Verizon states. "Although Verizon Wireless uses one of the most rigorous testing protocols of any carrier, the process generally takes only between four and six weeks. Certification is done by third party labs approved by Verizon Wireless, and selected by the device manufacturer."

Previously the FCC's open access rules forced Verizon to lift a block on apps that let subscribers of limited data plans tether their device.

 

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Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    JD88 , September 22, 2013 11:55 AM
    Verizon is the epitome of corporate greed and putting the consumer at the bottom of the totem pole. Their customer service is abyssal.

    I really hope Google or someone else goes forward with a mobile data service because someone needs to shake up the current duopoly in place.

    ATT and Verizon charge the same prices for the same services. Yeah that's competition.
Other Comments
  • 12 Hide
    JD88 , September 22, 2013 11:55 AM
    Verizon is the epitome of corporate greed and putting the consumer at the bottom of the totem pole. Their customer service is abyssal.

    I really hope Google or someone else goes forward with a mobile data service because someone needs to shake up the current duopoly in place.

    ATT and Verizon charge the same prices for the same services. Yeah that's competition.
  • 6 Hide
    williamf3000 , September 22, 2013 3:03 PM
    It seems obvious that Verizon is intentionally dragging its feet. Too bad consumers have no real way to penalize them for this bad behavior. Unfortunately, if any of use switches to another carrier we are just trading one devil for another.
  • 6 Hide
    Izman Quaasalmy , September 22, 2013 3:39 PM
    please slap verizon with billions dollar fine :) 
  • 5 Hide
    spectrewind , September 22, 2013 4:30 PM
    Having personally/professionally dealt with VZW ... for years ... and then personally firing them. Now using a work phone only thru them. I look forward to seeing a financial "nuclear bomb" detonated on their corporate doorstep. FCC... take no prisoners...

    I seriously doubt any of that would happen, as customers and customer service are alien/unknown concepts to VZW, ... and I actually think VZW and the FCC are in bed together.
  • 0 Hide
    Alathorne , September 22, 2013 5:32 PM
    A skilled craftsperson I knew at Verizon some years back said their motto was "We don't care because we don't have to!" I submit that they have been adhering to that motto for decades, and still do.
  • -2 Hide
    jimmysmitty , September 22, 2013 10:32 PM
    Quote:
    please slap verizon with billions dollar fine :) 


    You realize that fine would trickle down to the consumer, right?

    Either way I am not sure how this would be anything major as it is also within Verizons' realm to decide not to support a product. Its the same as a companies right to refuse service to someone.

    This is almost like someone wanting to use a HTC One or S4 from AT&T on Verizons network, which according to the rules Verizon would have to allow. Except AT&T use different phone networks.

    Will be interesting to see how this plays out. If this is won against Verizon, then that would open a flood gate of products to be used and would cause some problems I would assume.
  • -4 Hide
    chuckchurch , September 23, 2013 2:46 AM
    A network is a complex thing. Wireless is extremely hard to do, compared to normal wired networking. I can't blame Verizon for wanting to test a device before allowing it on the network. All vendors do this. If you don't you're asking for a world of hurt.
  • 0 Hide
    ddpruitt , September 23, 2013 5:39 AM
    Testing a device my ass. Someone called BS on Verizon AGAIN not following the access rules they are required to and then they come up with this stupid certification excuse. There's no reason to certify the device if you're not selling it, either the hardware works or it doesn't. Since it works on AT&T, T-mobile, and works with SIMs from other Verizon devices then it clearly works. If it goes through a normal Verizon certification process then it won't be certified until sometime after the next Nexus 7 gets discontinued.
  • -1 Hide
    brandonjclark , September 23, 2013 6:10 AM
    Listen folks. This all boils down to ONE main issue, the government regulations. Phone companies lobbied for legislation ?(which your representatives agreed to) to restrict access across networks. Without the government in to muck up the free market rules, you WOULD be able to but phones and devices which worked across all networks.
  • 2 Hide
    happyballz , September 23, 2013 8:11 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    please slap verizon with billions dollar fine :) 


    Either way I am not sure how this would be anything major as it is also within Verizons' realm to decide not to support a product. Its the same as a companies right to refuse service to someone.

    This is almost like someone wanting to use a HTC One or S4 from AT&T on Verizons network, which according to the rules Verizon would have to allow. Except AT&T use different phone networks.

    Will be interesting to see how this plays out. If this is won against Verizon, then that would open a flood gate of products to be used and would cause some problems I would assume.


    What are you even talking about? What support for a product?
    This is an issue with someone going to buy a SIM card (or equivalent in CDMA network) to stick in their phone but being refused because Verizon have not "certified" some device that they do not sell or use. No one is asking for support of a product that was bought outside of Verizon's store. FCC already did their test for interference and such ... there is no need for Verizon to make stuff up and "certify" devices that already passed required testing.

    It is an obvious predatory policy that limits you from brining a phone that you bought somewhere else thus forcing you to buy and spend more $$$ on Verizon's devices that they got for fraction of what they sell them for.

    And what flood gate will this open? Europeans and many Asian counties have been using multi-SIM and multi band devices for decades now ... don't let any carriers BS you into thinking that this will bring the end of the world to cellphones. They just want to give you the least possible wiggle room and make it as hard as possible to move so you will not want to move.
  • 0 Hide
    razor512 , September 23, 2013 8:34 AM
    What a BS excuse, standards were created so that so that things could be known to work beforehand. I am sure that verizon is not making some kind of stupid chance to make the wireless technology non standard.
  • 0 Hide
    targetdrone , September 23, 2013 9:46 AM
    It works with a SIM so what's the problem? Just get a new SIM.
  • 0 Hide
    toadhammer , September 23, 2013 11:04 AM
    For those not familiar with the US markets, we're still trying to get out of the Dark Ages of having to buy phones direct from carriers, even on gsm networks.

    For those in the US who think we're still stuck, LTE is a different beastie. Yes Verizon's main network is CDMA and SIMless vs AT&T's GSM. But LTE *does* use SIMs, on all networks. And if an AT&T LTE phone can see the frequencies of the Verizon LTE network, it's going to work there. The manufacturer had to do interop testing with all sorts of network equipment. Verizon's *certification* is them kicking and screaming and trying to hold on to the Dark Ages, and the extra money that extra control means for them.
  • 1 Hide
    Izman Quaasalmy , September 23, 2013 1:46 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    please slap verizon with billions dollar fine :) 


    You realize that fine would trickle down to the consumer, right?



    well, if verizon decide to trickle it to user, how do you think user will react ? double slap :D 

  • 0 Hide
    lasterror , September 23, 2013 2:11 PM
    Why not get a new SIM and just use that? On This Week In Google, Jeff said he wanted to add his Nexus 7 to his existing shared Verizon data plan which would cost him an additional $10 a month. This is what Verizon refused to do. He could obtain another SIM intended for some other device -this is known to work- but doing so would cost $40 a month, not $10. And ultimately Verizon needed to comply with the regulations rather than the customer needing to go around the issue and pay more.
  • 1 Hide
    TeraMedia , September 24, 2013 6:39 AM
    I suggest that in cases such as this, Verizon should be obligated to provide its customers with a free temprary SIM card that is activated on a competitor's network with a comparable level of service - at Verizon's expense - until such time as Verizon can certify the device.

    Let's see how quickly they work through that certification process then.
  • 0 Hide
    dhinged , September 24, 2013 2:21 PM
    So should I return there new Nexus 7 I just bought and not give Verizon another $10 per month?
  • 0 Hide
    LinuxNinja , September 27, 2013 9:10 PM
    You can get Verizon to give you a SIM to activate your tablet. The tablet make/model doesn't matter. Getting them to issue the SIM is the hold-up. Find an IMEI number, any IMEI number for any tablet already made for the Verizon Network. Give them that IMEI number, they will do a lookup, find that it's a tablet, issue the SIM, and add $10/month to your bill plus $35 activation. Put that SIM in ANY LTE device you have that has LTE on Verizon's frequencies. You now have a $10/month data-only device, even it it's a MiFi or cell phone. Verizon doesn't offer data-only for cell phones, but this way you can work around the system. You can move that SIM from phone to tablet, tablet to MiFi, back to tablet, doesn't matter. The IMEI number you give them tells them what the device is and what to bill per month for it. This, of course, may change in the future.
  • 0 Hide
    dhinged , September 30, 2013 2:06 PM
    So should I return there new Nexus 7 I just bought and not give Verizon another $10 per month?