The advocacy group Free Press issued a complaint with the FCC yesterday, stating that Verizon is blocking tethering choices on their LTE phones. Verizon has remained cagey on the subject, but if that’s true sparks are gonna fly.
Big Red isn’t alone in blocking third-party tethering apps for their phones, as the likes of AT&T and T-Mobile do it too. Free Press acknowledges this in their filing, stating that the practice hinders choice and innovation by forcing users to subscribe to expensive tethering plans. However, by allegedly restricting such apps on their LTE phones, Verizon violates the FCC’s “Open Access” rules. Rules they promised to adhere to after buying up the spectrum they needed for their 4G network back in 2008:
Based on the Commission’s 1968 Carterfone decision, those rules forbade carriers from trying to “deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice.”
Verizon has made no official comment on the subject, but a Google rep speaking with Fierce Broadband Wireless stated that they themselves were not blocking the apps, but rather making them unavailable at carriers’ requests. Whether that indicts Verizon or not, now it’s up to the FCC to determine if they should go ahead with an investigation. [Ars Technica]