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Advocacy Group Files FCC Complaint Over Verizon Tethering Ban 190

Posted by timothy
from the send-your-complaint-from-a-hardline dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Cnet reports that the advocacy group Free Press has filed a complaint with the FCC that argues Verizon Wireless shouldn't be allowed to block tethering apps that let people connect their computers to the Internet through their phones' 4G wireless data network. 'This practice restricts consumer choice and hinders innovation regardless of which carrier adopts such policies, but when Verizon Wireless employs these restrictions in connection with its LTE network, it also violates the Federal Communications Commission's rules,' says the group. Those rules say Verizon 'shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice.' Google has made tethering apps unavailable through the Android Market for some phones that use wireless services from Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, saying in May it did so at the behest of carriers."
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Advocacy Group Files FCC Complaint Over Verizon Tethering Ban

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  • Well duh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by chemicaldave (1776600) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @10:32AM (#36362782)
    Of course they have to charge extra for data over tethering. The screen on a laptop is bigger, morans.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      +1 ironic for misspelling moron.

      • by Jahava (946858)

        +1 ironic for misspelling moron.

        It's an internet thing. [urbandictionary.com]

        • It's an internet thing [urbandictionary.com].

          I actually like definitions #3 and 6:

          3: The preferred method of spelling "moron" by morons, particularly that of a Missouri redneck at a rally supporting the US led war in Iraq.
          6: Simply, the way a moron spells moron.

          Personally, I think intentional usage of the misspelled version dumb, not ironic (as implied by other definitions).

        • Now I just feel old.

      • -1 "SWOOSH/doesn't get it"
  • by The O Rly Factor (1977536) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @10:34AM (#36362818)
    I predict a respone that is a bureaucraticly worded 'Fuck you.' The FCC is fully bought and paid for, they already just let one of its commissioners take a blatant bribe from Comcast under the condition that they give them the ok to merge with NBC Universal.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If they didn't the mifi would go byebye

    https://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/mobilebroadband/?page=products_mifi

  • Verizon does have plans where people can tether without restrictions on the apps and devices. It is just separate from the mobile phone only plans.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Which is a ripoff.
      I want 5GB of data, to use however I see fit. They are fucking transport, that is it. I want to buy a dumb pipe.

      • I want 5GB of data, to use however I see fit. They are fucking transport, that is it. I want to buy a dumb pipe.

        Your dumb pipe would cost a lot more than $40 a month.

        Verizon has determined that $40 will make a profit based on what the average consumer will use on their smartphone. Unlimited tethering? I can't even guess how much resources that would be worth. $400/month? $4000/month? I don't want to pay that just so my wife can check Facebook on her phone.

        That said, I think their tiered data pricing is too expensive. I'd like to use it on my upcoming vacation but it's not worth it. At 25% of the price I

        • I want 5GB of data, to use however I see fit. They are fucking transport, that is it. I want to buy a dumb pipe.

          Your dumb pipe would cost a lot more than $40 a month. Verizon has determined that $40 will make a profit based on what the average consumer will use on their smartphone. Unlimited tethering? I can't even guess how much resources that would be worth. $400/month? $4000/month? I don't want to pay that just so my wife can check Facebook on her phone. That said, I think their tiered data pricing is too expensive. I'd like to use it on my upcoming vacation but it's not worth it. At 25% of the price I would probably pay for it and use it.

          Really? Dumb pipe would cost more? Why can I buy a 'dumb pipe' SIM in other countries without a contract with 9GB of 'use it however' transfer? Yet, here the same thing seems to cost 450USD. The real answer is that we have no realistic competition between the carriers and as such they may screw us at will. I am not going to place blame for the situation, but that us what it is. After all, what are you going to do? Switch to the other carrier with the same policies?

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        I want 5GB of data, to use however I see fit. They are fucking transport, that is it. I want to buy a dumb pipe.

        They sell "dumb pipe" plans, usually under the name of "VPN laptop" plans with real IPs.

        The smart carriers already know that the plans offer different services and differentiate them. E.g., a smartphone plan will usually have you NAT'ed and maybe even firewalled so all you can access is POP/IMAP/HTTP/HTTPS (Verizon does this - try accessing IRC - in many cases it's blocked). Heck, they can even tr

      • The problem is, how you "use it" differs depending on the device you do the browsing on - browsing on a smart phone or PDA actually produces a lot less traffic than browsing on a desktop or laptop, because behaviours differ between the two types of devices (not to mention all of the other crap going on on a full blown PC, such as checking for OS updates, virus protection updates, ftp uploads etc etc etc).

        Now, you might say "yes, but they've charged me for 5GB, so why does that matter - let me use it until i

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      meanwhile, you already pay to use your data how you want,and now they want a surcharge for using that same data how you want.

    • Charging extra for using the same bandwidth for a different application stinks.
      • Differing usage patterns cause differing loads on the network - internet usage on a smart phone is lighter than internet usage on a desktop, for a variety of reasons. Its not charging extra for the same bandwidth, its charging extra for the totally different usage pattern.

    • Yeah, I hear the gas stations have a plan where you can use the radio in your car. It's just separate from the drive-only plan. I mean, wake the fuck up! You've bought a phone that has features a third party prevents you from using unless you pay them extra for an unrelated service!
  • Tethering using the USB cable...got an app that works fine there with Verizon DroidX. I can work very efficiently this way and make calls through Google Voice btw.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Install android-wifi-tether, turns the phone into a wifi access point. Since not every device you might want to use has a host usb port.

  • I don't think this will make me any more popular around these parts, but this is a weak argument. Verizon isn't restricting LTE devices. They are restricting the connectivity for non-LTE devices.

    I think the main problem is that so many people have been able to use it without having to pay, but now Verizon is actually enforcing the provisions of the contract. A backlash is predictable, but this FCC complaint just doesn't have legs.

    The other argument I see quite a bit is that "unlimited data" means unlimited

    • How is making it so you can't use certain apps on your smartphone, which has LTE, not restricting a LTE device?

      • They actually aren't making it so that you can't use a tethering app. What happens is that when you attempt to use a web browser on the tethered device, you are redirected to a page that tells you you're being naughty. The tethering app itself runs just fine.

    • by mikkelm (1000451)

      While you're on the subject of weak arguments, you should probably examine your own. You're falling prey to the "device" mentality. "Device" has nothing to do with it. Throughput is what the company is selling, and throughput is what you're consuming. By the same rationale, your ISP could sell you an "unlimited data" product and argue that it only extends to your modem, not to the machines behind it.

      If your network access "device" cannot support other "devices" by providing access to the data connection, th

    • by eldepeche (854916)

      People's main problem is that the restriction is arbitrary and has no purpose other than squeezing money out of already-paying customers.

      I pay Verizon $30 a month to get data to my phone. They want me to pay more to get data through my phone to my laptop. Data is data, so the same amount of usage costs more. Why? The restriction isn't technical in nature, it's purely a business decision.

      If they wanted to make people pay in proportion to the load they put on the network, that's one thing. Data downloaded to

      • I agree with everything you wrote. It is definitely, absolutely just a way to charge customers more. But I would also argue that the only reason this is an issue at all is because tethering has value to the customer, and isn't charging customers money to deliver value exactly what service providers do for a living?

        Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have free tethering (and I don't work for or own stock in a service provider). But this argument that we should get it for free just because the SPs _could_ offer i

        • The problem is this is a bit of a socialist problem because the spectrum used for them to conduct their business is licensed from THE PEOPLE with specific and clear provisions that they NOT do block stuff. SO it may smack of Marxism to you because at its core, its a socialist issue.
        • by nschubach (922175)

          I'm actually scared that that's the point of them limiting Fios and other services recently... The push to go full wireless LTE instead of using land lines (kind of like phone to cell phone has done) but they are trying to hold onto as much control as they can for that inevitable transition. I mean, why put in more fiber to the home if you can just sell them a wireless hotspot and charge them more for a limited connection?

        • by mikkelm (1000451)

          Tethering has value to the customer, and that's why they buy phones that feature tethering, or applications that enable it. Tethering is not a service provided by the carrier, so they have no business charging for it, just like they have no business charging for the installation of any other third party applications that may use the supposedly unlimited data connection. You cannot argue that the service provider offers anything on your system other than the data connection, because it does not.

          There's nothi

  • There is no difference between a byte to my phone versus a byte to other device.
    • There is no difference between a byte to my phone versus a byte to other device.

      Yes there is. The bytes to your phone are a different color [sooke.bc.ca] than the ones being sent to your other device.

  • My sister and her family will not pay for wireless data services. They are with AT&T. Recently She was swapping her SIM card from her dumb phone to an OLD Blackjack they had purchased years ago. AT&T automatically started charging them NOT for wireless data but for using a "smartphone"! How can they justify any of this?
    • by Amouth (879122)

      I'd like to see the bill on that .. because while AT&T can see the device on the other end via the IMEI they do not bill based on that.

      there is no difference in billing for voice on a normal or a smart phone.

    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      "How can they justify any of this?"

      Is it that difficult to understand even basic economics? They offer a service for people to buy at a market price. It's their choice to buy it or not. If nobody wants it at the price they offer then they'll either have to discontinue if there is no money to be made or lower the price to pick up buyers. You can't even try to claim it's a monopoly here as there are many choices if you are not happy with their service, go elsewhere.

  • by c.r.o.c.o (123083) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @12:01PM (#36364102)

    I don't understand what's the big deal. In the grand scheme of things, I know blocking tethering apps may be against FCC rules, but I'm not betting the carriers will actually follow those rules. But here's what you CAN do:

    Step 1. Get an unlockable, rootable phone. ALL carrier phones are locked, but some are easily rooted and all of them can be unlocked for a small fee. So you can still get a subsidized phone, just be careful which one you pick. As a rule of thumb, never pick up a brand new model, but almost every single 3-6 month old model is rootable.

    Step 2. Install a custom ROM like Cyanogenmod.

    Step 3. Use the tethering capabilities built into your ROM, without the need of any extra apps.

    If you can't follow these steps, then find friends who can or pay somebody to do it for you. My gf, who doesn't have a clue how to unlock and root phones, is using CM7 nightlies on her HTC just fine.

    • by tgd (2822)

      And its trivial for a carrier to tell that the data coming off your phone doesn't match mobile device usage heuristics, or is reporting unusual browser headers, or using ports that phones won't normally use.

      And then they can whack you with huge fees for it. (Read your TOS)

    • by FedeTXF (456407)

      "My gf, who doesn't have a clue how to unlock and root phones, is using CM7 nightlies on her HTC just fine."

      Amazing.

      I think U.S. carriers are either too pressed by competition or too greedy. In Argentina (only 3 nationwide) you can get 500 voice minutes, 250 SMS, 250 MMS plus unlimited data (2GB full speed, after that 128kbps) for about USD 50. That includes tethering if you happen to chose an Android 2.2 phone with your plan. You can also have 500 MB (plus 200 minutes and 200 SMS) for USD 30 and also do te

  • by StikyPad (445176) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @12:32PM (#36364572) Homepage

    I filed an FCC complaint last month regarding AT&T charging for tethering -- basically the same complaint. As expected, the FCC didn't do anything except give my contact information to AT&T so that AT&T could contact me to tell me that my contract basically allows them to impose whatever restrictions they want.

    Obviously I realize the contract sucks, which is why I filed the complaint. If I have a 2GB plan, I should be able to do whatever I damn well please with those 2GB of data.

    Hopefully this group (and the voices of others) will have more success. You can file a consumer complaint online here: http://transition.fcc.gov/cgb/complaints_tcpa.html [fcc.gov] if you're so inclined, though be aware that the FCC will give out your contact information to your carrier. Also false/anonymous, complaints probably won't help.

  • Unlimited plans are available because carriers know that all the smart phones will not be accessing the net all the time. I doubt very much that many people will be watching movies or downloading torrents for hours at a time on a smartphone. If you get enough people doing this, as would happen if tethering was allowed, you would swamp the carrier network.

    Yes the bits are the same but the usage pattern is much different between tethering and smartphone use. If you insist on tethering to unlimited plans say g

  • by cowtamer (311087) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @03:28PM (#36379856) Journal

    They are in the business of selling data access. Just charge an extra $10/GB (or whatever the market will bear) and be done with it, and quit lying to customers about having sold them an "unlimited" plan in the first place.

    There is something seriously innovation-chilling about the company dictating what the source of the data is...

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