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Verizon to end tethering app blockage following $1.25M FCC settlement

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday said Verizon will pay out a $1.25 million settlement for unlawfully blocking customers' access to its network using so-called "tethering apps."

The agreement affects owners of devices running Google's Android operating system and stops Verizon from blocking tethering apps and charging a $20 fee for such access to tiered data subscribers, reports The Washington Post.

During a ten-month investigation, the FCC discovered Verizon requested that Google remove 11 apps from its Android Marketplace which allowed users to bypass the carrier's own built-in tethering functionality that carries a $20 charge. The nation's largest wireless carrier by subscribership apparently promised the FCC it would allow the use of any software on its network, thus asking Google to remove the apps constitutes an unlawful act.

?The massive innovation and investment fueled by the Internet have been driven by consumer choice in both devices and applications,? FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said. ?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.?

At issue are rules and regulations regarding C-Block spectrum, including the 700 MHz band Verizon purchased in 2008 for $9.63 billion and on which the company launched its 4G LTE network in 2010. The associated rules state "[?] licensees 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, with certain exceptions."

Verizon


Tuesday's ruling only affects Android users since Apple's iPhone does not yet operate on 4G networks and customers weren't being charged for use of the third-generation iPad's mobile hot spot feature.

As with a similar case reported today regarding Google's alleged sidestepping of Safari privacy settings, the FCC adopted a "consent decree" which allows Verizon to make a voluntary payment without admitting liability.

In a statement issued by Verizon, the company said the consent decree "puts behind us concerns related to employee?s communications with an app store operator about tethering applications, and allows us to focus on serving our customers."
post #2 of 38
This should trickle to the other carriers, namely AT&T.

Now where is the investigation into SMS costs?

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post #3 of 38
So this is a possible reason why the carriers are supposedly "rushing" to implement shared data plans.
post #4 of 38
That's funny because both ATT and Sprint block FoxFi from the Google Play store while VZW does not. I guess the difference is the LTE network and the C block spectrum it uses.
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post #5 of 38

This is a big deal. I hope other cases come up and all blockages and restrictions are removed. Data is data no matter what form it takes as it floats through the airwaves and fiber optic cables.
 

This also makes Android more attractive than iOS for now. It could save a lot of money for all of the users.

post #6 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

This is a big deal. I hope other cases come up and all blockages and restrictions are removed. Data is data no matter what form it takes as it floats through the airwaves and fiber optic cables. 

It might all be 1's and 0's if it's digital but there are distinct differences in cost for various data types and transmission methods that make the "data is data" comment axiomatically inaccurate.

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post #7 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

This should trickle to the other carriers, namely AT&T.
Now where is the investigation into SMS costs?

Hopefully this is a sign of the times. It does look like AT&T is slowly moving in this direction any ways. The sooner carriers embrace the concept that data is data and chage for bits transmitted the better off we will all be.
post #8 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Hopefully this is a sign of the times. It does look like AT&T is slowly moving in this direction any ways. The sooner carriers embrace the concept that data is data and chage for bits transmitted the better off we will all be.

I absolutely hate this mindless concept of "data is data" without any other consideration. What we're talking about here is not all data but general internet traffic.

For this type of metered traffic with this type of transmission method I wholeheartedly agree that charging for the luxury of tethering is extortion. If we're talking about unlimited/unlimited cellular data plans then I see how and why the carriers should not be required to offer tethering.

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post #9 of 38

tether.com - Has worked well for me.

post #10 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


Hopefully this is a sign of the times. It does look like AT&T is slowly moving in this direction any ways. The sooner carriers embrace the concept that data is data and chage for bits transmitted the better off we will all be.

I'd be willing to pay for more bits when it comes to voice. AT&T voice quality is horrible and has been since they got rid of analog.

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post #11 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

It might all be 1's and 0's if it's digital but there are distinct differences in cost for various data types and transmission methods that make the "data is data" comment axiomatically inaccurate.

I'm not sure how you come to this conclusion. In the end data is data or bits are bits as such iit should not really matter how you use your allocation of bits.

Sure different technologies may have different cost profiles for the carriers. One could suggest that LTE might be more expensive than previous technologies. But that doesn't matter as a customer you pay for that access.

On the flip side I see some of the carriers concerns also. Make it too easy to suck out bits and you end up with congestion and unhappy customers.
post #12 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'm not sure how you come to this conclusion. In the end data is data or bits are bits as such iit should not really matter how you use your allocation of bits.
Sure different technologies may have different cost profiles for the carriers. One could suggest that LTE might be more expensive than previous technologies. But that doesn't matter as a customer you pay for that access.
On the flip side I see some of the carriers concerns also. Make it too easy to suck out bits and you end up with congestion and unhappy customers.

If you truly believe that in the "data is data" mantra then make an argument that you shouldn't be charged for voice minutes but the data those voice calls use.

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post #13 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I absolutely hate this mindless concept of "data is data" without any other consideration.
I don't see a problem with the concept. Doing EMail on my tethered Mac wouldn't load the network anymore than catching up via the iPad or iPhone.
Quote:
What we're talking about here is not all data but general internet traffic.
For this type of metered traffic with this type of transmission method I wholeheartedly agree that charging for the luxury of tethering is extortion. If we're talking about unlimited/unlimited cellular data plans then I see how and why the carriers should not be required to offer tethering.
Whose fault is those unlimited plans? Frankly for a service derived from a telephone company, (companies used to metered service) it looks like a major mistake as it gives the companies no way to ration usage.

I understand the technical side of the mix, the last thing I would want is my service going to hell because a bunch of guys are streaming porn over the network. The way to deal with that is to make such activity expensive enough that it causes people to pause and consider their balances.

In any event when you look at today's situation where most people pay for a fixed amount of transfer capacity each month I really don't see why charging for a specific type of usage for that capacity is allowed. If AT&T and others thought a bit about this, I thinkmtheynwould realize that they can make more money by freely allowing tethering. It just means that many more customers will be buying additional data allotments. For those with greater discipline they may be able to stick with their basic allotment, if so AT&T isn't impacted negatively.
post #14 of 38
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post
If you truly believe that in the "data is data" mantra then make an argument that you shouldn't be charged for voice minutes but the data those voice calls use.

 

And just like that, you've solved a problem we've had for a century: absolutely inexcusable call audio quality. 

 

If what you've said gets put into effect, telecoms will push FLAC/ALAC audio across the airwaves, and all microphones/speakers in phones will be upgraded to take advantage of it.

 

Congratulations!

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post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

If you truly believe that in the "data is data" mantra then make an argument that you shouldn't be charged for voice minutes but the data those voice calls use.

That isn't hard to do. For users of Voice over IP software they effectively do that now. As to cwll phones a and "normal" cell phone calls is that really a bad thing? Effectively being charged by the minute is very similar to charging by the bit anyways if not the same thing.

The big difference is that being charged by the bit scales the charges based on the technology used. That is a voice communications is effectively cheaper than a video transmission for a given length of communications. This is a good thing as people aware of the difference can wisely use their bandwidth based on the price they are willing to pay.
post #16 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I don't see a problem with the concept. Doing EMail on my tethered Mac wouldn't load the network anymore than catching up via the iPad or iPhone.

What you state above has nothing to do with the "data is data" concept. What you're referring to is the same data over the same medium being sent to different devices. That is the not the same as referring to voice call data and HTTP traffic as all being the same simply because they are all technically data. It would be liking calling a tree and human and a rock all the same thing because we are all made of elements.

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post #17 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'm not sure how you come to this conclusion. In the end data is data or bits are bits as such iit should not really matter how you use your allocation of bits.

Not necessarily true.

Let's say that you need one set of data in virtually real time where lags of even tens of milliseconds could cause a problem (such as voice calls). Other data is in no hurry and can be delivered in a less urgent matter, but still requires some urgency (such as Internet usage). Other data is such that even a delay of a couple of seconds isn't a big deal (MMS messages).

The cost could easily be different for those three types of data.
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post #18 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

This should trickle to the other carriers, namely AT&T.
Now where is the investigation into SMS costs?

 It won't spread by this decision.  This is related to the 700MHz auction from a few years back that only involves Verizon.  It's basically against the provisions that the FCC put forth for the spectrum.

post #19 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenG4 View Post

 It won't spread by this decision.  This is related to the 700MHz auction from a few years back that only involves Verizon.  It's basically against the provisions that the FCC put forth for the spectrum.

I see that but it sets a precedence and since Verizon is still the top carrier it sets one that will be hard for AT&T to ignore. If you can get free tethering with your LTE iPhone on Verizon or have to pay for at least 4GB on AT&T to get it (even though if you do tether you probably want at least 4GB) then AT&T will just look bad in comparison. I'm fully expecting that AT&T follows without any any FCC input on the matter.

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post #20 of 38
AT&T charges for tethering and that's why I bought a Verizon iPad.

That's it - pure and simple.

Maybe AT&T will get the message, maybe not. But my previous iPad was AT&T and this one is not. I voted with my wallet.
post #21 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

And just like that, you've solved a problem we've had for a century: absolutely inexcusable call audio quality. 

 

If what you've said gets put into effect, telecoms will push FLAC/ALAC audio across the airwaves, and all microphones/speakers in phones will be upgraded to take advantage of it.

 

Congratulations!

I often use Skype to talk between Central America and the US and most of the time the quality is so good it sounds as if the other person is right there in the room. You can hear everything, the acoustics of the room they are in and even the proverbial pin drop. I'm surprised more people don't use Skype for local calls since it is head and shoulders above the regular mobile call in terms of voice clarity.

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post #22 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


I see that but it sets a precedence and since Verizon is still the top carrier it sets one that will be hard for AT&T to ignore. If you can get free tethering with your LTE iPhone on Verizon or have to pay for at least 4GB on AT&T to get it (even though if you do tether you probably want at least 4GB) then AT&T will just look bad in comparison. I'm fully expecting that AT&T follows without any any FCC input on the matter.

Gotcha.  I thought you were saying the FCC would hopefully enforce this for everyone, not that market/competition forces would force others to follow suit. 

post #23 of 38
i went to the gas station the other day and the attendant filled 'er up. as i paid him, he was sure to remind me that i could only use the gas for going to the grocery store, the in-laws, and back and forth to a few select stores. he said that if i wanted to use it for anything else that i would have to pay him an extra $20 a month.

edit: add "have" in "would have to pay him"
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post #24 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pooch View Post

i went to the gas station the other day and the attendant filled 'er up. as i paid him, he was sure to remind me that i could only use the gas for going to the grocery store, the in-laws, and back and forth to a few select stores. he said that if i wanted to use it for anything else that i would have to pay him an extra $20 a month.
edit: add "have" in "would have to pay him"

That is a fallacious argument because there is no restrictions that can be imposed by gas station attendants on how you use your data in your vehicle. To make that argument more apt it would be saying you can't use that data on certain websites.

There are, however, mandates on fuels for specific use in the US and other countries. I know of at one, red diesel, which is a dye additive that is used for lower-tax fuel for farm equipment, which can include traditional vehicles so long as that fuel is used on the farm. It's a criminal act for violating the law.

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post #25 of 38
When I go to iPhone AT&T I am told call AT&T and get ready to pay. So why AT&T says pay and Verizon says not?
post #26 of 38

Yup, now whats up with the personal hotspot charge on ATT? 

post #27 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

This should trickle to the other carriers, namely AT&T.
Now where is the investigation into SMS costs?

And when it does, other carriers will stop grandfathering Unlimited. Perhaps Verizon saw the hand appear before the wall and decided not to wait for the writing to begin. Ahead of the curve.
post #28 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


I absolutely hate this mindless concept of "data is data" without any other consideration. What we're talking about here is not all data but general internet traffic.
For this type of metered traffic with this type of transmission method I wholeheartedly agree that charging for the luxury of tethering is extortion. If we're talking about unlimited/unlimited cellular data plans then I see how and why the carriers should not be required to offer tethering.

Sorry, but I disagree. Data *is* data. When I buy an unlimited data plan I am buying a conduit down which I can pump unlimited data using the bandwidth I am allocated. If I choose to forward some of that data to another destination (using my own infrastructure) that is no concern of the original bandwidth supplier. Steve Jobs made flat-rate unlimited data plans a condition of AT&T's exclusive license to sell the iPhone. AT&T miscalculated how well the iPhone would sell and the load it would place on their network. They have had to play catchup ever since (though they have also made out like bandits with the increased user base that the iPhone gave them). That does not mean they have the right to redefine "unlimited" to mean capped and throttled (which they have actually done). Since AT&T no longer has an exclusive iPhone license, Apple cannot call them on this. I'm surprised the FCC has let it slip though. AT&T getting away with this redefinition has allowed Verizon to provide similar service and, but for a condition of sale entered into when LTE radio spectrum was auctioned to them, Verizon would have succeeded in similar restrictions and actually been able to charge twice for the same data bandwidth to end users.

 

If I buy an eBook using my cell phone, why should I have to pay twice to download it to my iPad? If I buy a video stream using my iPhone, why should I have to pay twice to view that stream on my iPad? The same number of bytes were downloaded over the cell-supplier's infrastructure in both alternatives. The same supplier-resource was consumed.

 

The "all data is not equal" argument is a marketing differentiation. It effectively introduces a surcharge on where I am allowed to enjoy the content I have paid for. Bandwidth providers should have no say in that aspect of my internet use. As such it is just another recast of a non-network-neutrality and should be rejected at the FCC level - and not just as a condition of LTE spectrum use.

post #29 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by softeky View Post

Sorry, but I disagree. Data *is* data.

So you want all data treated equally? No favoritism to data because you think it's all the same? Is that what you're saying?

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post #30 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by softeky View Post

The "all data is not equal" argument is a marketing differentiation. It effectively introduces a surcharge on where I am allowed to enjoy the content I have paid for. Bandwidth providers should have no say in that aspect of my internet use. As such it is just another recast of a non-network-neutrality and should be rejected at the FCC level - and not just as a condition of LTE spectrum use.

See post #19.
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post #31 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by softeky View Post

Sorry, but I disagree. Data *is* data. When I buy an unlimited data plan I am buying a conduit down which I can pump unlimited data using the bandwidth I am allocated. If I choose to forward some of that data to another destination (using my own infrastructure) that is no concern of the original bandwidth supplier. Steve Jobs made flat-rate unlimited data plans a condition of AT&T's exclusive license to sell the iPhone. AT&T miscalculated how well the iPhone would sell and the load it would place on their network. They have had to play catchup ever since (though they have also made out like bandits with the increased user base that the iPhone gave them). That does not mean they have the right to redefine "unlimited" to mean capped and throttled (which they have actually done). Since AT&T no longer has an exclusive iPhone license, Apple cannot call them on this. I'm surprised the FCC has let it slip though. AT&T getting away with this redefinition has allowed Verizon to provide similar service and, but for a condition of sale entered into when LTE radio spectrum was auctioned to them, Verizon would have succeeded in similar restrictions and actually been able to charge twice for the same data bandwidth to end users.

If I buy an eBook using my cell phone, why should I have to pay twice to download it to my iPad? If I buy a video stream using my iPhone, why should I have to pay twice to view that stream on my iPad? The same number of bytes were downloaded over the cell-supplier's infrastructure in both alternatives. The same supplier-resource was consumed.

The "all data is not equal" argument is a marketing differentiation. It effectively introduces a surcharge on where I am allowed to enjoy the content I have paid for. Bandwidth providers should have no say in that aspect of my internet use. As such it is just another recast of a non-network-neutrality and should be rejected at the FCC level - and not just as a condition of LTE spectrum use.

Really.... Start a global voice capable, bulk transfer and interactive data networking company on the ideas you've outlined. Post the NASDAQ ticker in 7 years, please. I'm betting you won't get capital for hour one.
Edited by ChristophB - 7/31/12 at 9:10pm
post #32 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

This should trickle to the other carriers, namely AT&T.
Now where is the investigation into SMS costs?

No it won't. It is specific to Verizon and the spectrum they won by auction.
Overcharging for SMS is not a crime and don't expect some kind of government intervention because something is overpriced.
post #33 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arizona Dinger View Post

No it won't. It is specific to Verizon and the spectrum they won by auction.
Overcharging for SMS is not a crime and don't expect some kind of government intervention because something is overpriced.

:sigh:

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post #34 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

This is a big deal. I hope other cases come up and all blockages and restrictions are removed. Data is data no matter what form it takes as it floats through the airwaves and fiber optic cables.

 
This also makes Android more attractive than iOS for now. It could save a lot of money for all of the users.

It's not specific to Android but it is specific to Verizon. It's specific to devices that use the LTE 700 MHz spectrum Verizon won at auction. This is probably why the iPad 3 does tethering now at no additional charge and so will the iPhone 5 when it shows up in a few months.
If you have unlimited now and pay full price for your device your contract does not change which just might be worth it. Unlimited LTE plus unlimited tethering would be pretty sweet.
post #35 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arizona Dinger View Post

No it won't. It is specific to Verizon and the spectrum they won by auction.
Overcharging for SMS is not a crime and don't expect some kind of government intervention because something is overpriced.

I don't think anyone is saying that this decision applies to anyone else. The argument seems to be that if Verizon has to allow tethering without charge, the competitors will eventually probably offer the same thing - for competitive reasons, not legal ones.
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post #36 of 38

Folks the ruling is about Verizon asking Google to ban the apps from their user, it does not say VZ still can not charge you for tethering. There is enough information especially with AT&T they are using the intelligence in the network switchs to know if someone is tethering and all they do today is add the tethering cost on your next bill. I also heard that VZ has been doing similar things. This ruling just mean VZ can not force you to use their Tethering app.

 

Supposedly PDAnet will mask the tethering data so the network switch will not know what kind of device is requesting data.

 

No that this ruling it out, here is the work around for getting these programs onto your device, remove the SIM card and use wifi to connect to google market and it will allow you to download any of those blocked apps, since it used the carrier identifier as the means to filter or block user from gaining access to those apps. The other way is to down load the app to your computer and email it to your phone and then install it.


Edited by Maestro64 - 8/1/12 at 12:27pm
post #37 of 38
Originally Posted by Arizona Dinger View Post
It's not specific to Android but it is specific to Verizon.

 

From the first paragraph,

 

The agreement affects owners of devices running Google's Android operating system… 

This is probably why the iPad 3 does tethering now at no additional charge and so will the 6th iPhone when it shows up in a few months.

 

The iPad already did that, which is why it affects only Android users.

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post #38 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post

 

Since Sprint allows truly unlimited data on the phone, you would see people blow through 20 GB and more of data a month. In fact, you already see this with all the rooted Android phones where people tether to computers or tablets against their TOS. They do offer an optional tether plan though but most people just prefer to root or jailbreak to avoid that fee. With all the other carriers now offering shared data plans, Sprint might have to adapt to allow a capped amount of free tethering a month. They do not plan to end unlimited data on phones anytime soon so this might be a good option. 

 

This does happen on Sprint, both iPhone and Android. Sprint does in fact cap the tethering (see: http://www.tuaw.com/2011/09/22/sprint-caps-mobile-tethering-plans-to-5-gb-per-month-starting-oc/ ) to 5 GB per month. Of course if you are not using "officially sanctioned" tethering methods, they have no way to know how you're using the data, but officially there is a cap on tethered data, just not on-your-device data, which is still the unlimited plan.

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