The FCC has ruled that Verizon is not allowed to block users from using tethering applications to create their own 4G WiFi hotspots. The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday announced that Verizon had settled with the regulator over an investigation into whether the carrier was complying with FCC rules and allowing customers to 'freely use the devices and applications of their choosing.'
Verizon had previously been preventing users from using applications to set up their own 4G LTE hotspots. However, because the carrier's 4G LTE service is on the C Block spectrum, the company is forced to abide by the C Block rules. Specifically, FCC rules for licensees offering service on C Block spectrum "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." According to this rule, blocking customers from downloading tethering applications isn't allowed.
"Today's action demonstrates that compliance with FCC obligations is not optional," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. "The open device and application obligations were core conditions when Verizon purchased the C-block spectrum. The massive innovation and investment fueled by the Internet have been driven by consumer choice in both devices and applications. The steps taken today will not only protect consumer choice, but defend certainty for innovators to continue to deliver new services and apps without fear of being blocked."
Prior to the settlement with the FCC, Verizon was blocking customers from using tethering apps and instead required those that wanted to tether pay $20 extra for the company's 'Mobile Broadband Connect' service. The carrier was afraid that people would use tethering apps to get out of paying that charge.
Verizon Wireless has agreed to pay $1.25 million to put an end to the investigation. The company has also committed to notifying the Google Play Store that it no longer objects to the availability of the tethering applications to C-Block network customers.