Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Verizon find out where FCC draws the line...

Today it was reported that Verizon settled with the FCC for having blocked tethering apps on Android devices that circumvented the Verizon pricing plan and essentially provided tethering for free.

This is of course good news for users of these Apps but also an indication that the FCC is taking its responsibility of monitoring the carriers seriously. It is especially encouraging that the FCC is takes this kind of position on behalf of users but also the tiny outfits that create the apps (in comparison to the giant Verizon).

Unfortunately, this decision and settlement was not based on the much debated net neutrality statute currently under attack by Verizon and other carriers. Instead the FCC relied on auction rules for the C-block 700Mhz spectrum Verizon purchased. While these rules "got the job done", they are quite specific and in this case only apply to Verizon because the C-block was the only awarded spectrum block with these rules attached.

If the FCC had been able to achieve the same result through net neutrality statutes, it would have been a much bigger win for users and App developers because it would most likely have applied to the entire market. At the moment, iOS devices are not believed to be affected since the AppStore is curated by Apple and do not include any tethering apps, but Verizon users of iPad3 (4G) use the same spectrum and should technically be subject to the same rules.

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