FCC: Verizon Can’t Block Tethering Apps

All iPhones come with an Internet connection, but extending that to a computer can sometimes be difficult. Tethering is the main option for accessing the Internet on your computer through your iPhone. It’s always worked well over USB, but the wireless hotspot functionality built-in to iPhones has been questionable and known for dropping connections or having little to no speed. The only problem with all official tethering methods is that carriers like Verizon Wireless enjoy charging you an additional monthly fee to use them. That seems a bit unfair since you’re already paying for a 3G connection and the service is right there, but people have found a way around Verizon’s walls.

Sadly, that’s where things typically get complicated. Apple keeps free or one-time-fee tethering apps out of the App Store, yet one or two slip by every few months. If you don’t want to use the official application distribution software and prefer Cydia, there are always a few working alternatives on there as well. But with those and web apps like Tether, the carrier comes in and blocks the app’s access to the Internet. Thankfully, the FCC told Verizon that it’s not allowed to block the apps and the carrier has suffered a $1.25 million payment to the U.S. Treasury since it had been doing so for quite some time.

So go ahead and tether — Verizon can’t stop you now.

If you’re on AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile then this won’t apply to you since it only has ties to Verizon’s new 700 MHz spectrum.

Under the terms of today’s settlement, Verizon Wireless will make a voluntary payment to the Treasury in the amount of $1.25 million, and has committed to notifying the application store operator that it no longer objects to the availability of the tethering applications to C-Block network customers in the operator’s online market. Verizon Wireless has also agreed to implement a compliance plan, requiring
that:

  1. employees will receive training on compliance with the C Block rules;
  2. future communications with application store operators regarding the availability of applications to Verizon Wireless customers will be reviewed in advance by legal counsel; and
  3. Verizon will report any instances of noncompliance with the rule at issue that might occur during the two-year term of the plan.

In addition, the company recently revised its service offerings such that consumers on usage-based pricing plans may tether, using any application, without paying an additional fee.

[FCC via GigaOMArs Technica]

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