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Verizon Government Wireless Networking

FCC Rules That Verizon Cannot Charge For 4G Tethering 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-there-was-much-rejoicing dept.
schleprock63 writes "The FCC ruled today that Verizon cannot charge extra for users for 4G Wi-Fi tethering. The FCC used the original agreement in the auction of the C block spectrum which said 'licensees offering service on C Block spectrum "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, subject to narrow exceptions."' So Verizon cannot charge for tethering on 4G service, this raises the question of whether they can continue to charge for tethering on 3G or 1x?"
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FCC Rules That Verizon Cannot Charge For 4G Tethering

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  • Good for the Judges (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nyder (754090) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:03PM (#40835095) Journal

    About time we got some smart rulings.

    I don't see why this won't apply to 3G or any other type of tethering either, since it's all the same.

    • by yakatz (1176317) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:11PM (#40835213) Homepage Journal

      I don't see why this won't apply to 3G or any other type of tethering either, since it's all the same.

      Because the issue is in which part of the wireless spectrum they are using. As far as I can tell, this ruling only applies to the new C Block spectrum, not the parts of the spectrum they used to have.

      • by jeffmeden (135043) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:16PM (#40835271) Homepage Journal

        I don't see why this won't apply to 3G or any other type of tethering either, since it's all the same.

        Because the issue is in which part of the wireless spectrum they are using. As far as I can tell, this ruling only applies to the new C Block spectrum, not the parts of the spectrum they used to have.

        Exactly. This was the feature that Google basically spent $4B on a few years ago. The spectrum for LTE went to carriers specifically with the requirement that they follow "net neutrality" style rules on usage; no blocking or "channeling" certain features according to service.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:31PM (#40835465)

          Important note: BID $4B on, but did not win, so spent nothing.

          • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @01:05AM (#40838903)

            It must feel really good for Google. They get to slide that knife in 3 years later. They probably did pay some tens of thousands of dollars to line up that $4 billion bid, but that's a drop in the bucket to be able to stick it to Verizon like that. And have the government do it for them.

            It looks like Google is really coming of age. They too have learned to manipulate the federal government, just as all the cable and phone providers before them. :P

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Obviously, Wall Street is not too worried about this. They're trying to move everyone to bundled data packages anyway.
  • Verizon only (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:06PM (#40835129) Homepage
    Note that this ruling applies to Verizon ONLY. It's a result of the rules they agreed to during the 700MHz auction a few years ago. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and everyone else are free to continue to charge you extra for what you already paid for.
    • Re:Verizon only (Score:5, Informative)

      by pscottdv (676889) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:19PM (#40835311)

      T-Mobile lets me tether for no additional cost. In fact, tethering came preinstalled on my phone.

      • by grahamsz (150076)

        They've taken that away. Works on my G2, it worked on my girlfriend's old phone but when she upgraded to a Galaxy S, tmobile started charging her to tether.

        It's a shame, makes me rethink staying with them

        • Root, install Cyanogenmod, done.

        • by noc007 (633443)

          There's ways around the tethering fee; it all depends on your morals and whether you consider the TOS valid in that regard.

          If you're happy with T-Mobile and the service they provide sans that one little thing, don't bother changing. They all suck.

    • by Chewbacon (797801)
      Verizon should take this and run with it. "No charge to tether: only at Verizon!" The sound of it makes me wanna jump ship to them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:06PM (#40835131)

    So if I read the article correctly, since they're no longer able to charge $20/mo for tethering, we should all brace for industry-wide data plan price increases of... about $20.

    • by Atzanteol (99067)

      That's what I'm reading too...

    • by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:56PM (#40835765)

      So if I read the article correctly, since they're no longer able to charge $20/mo for tethering, we should all brace for industry-wide data plan price increases of... about $20.

      If they thought they could have already raised prices $20 without resulting in a backlash leading to loss of revenue or other undesirable outcome (i.e. price regulation), they would have already done so.

      But in any case, if they want to make the same revenue the price increase would be lower than $20. If 1 out of 10 customers bought the tethering plan, then they'd only need to raise prices $2 for everyone to make the same amount of revenue.

    • by msauve (701917)
      "Brace for" implies something in the future. What you imply has already occurred. No new unlimited data plans, just pay-per-GB, where they don't care what uses the data. For people with grandfathered unlimited plans, no more ~$500/2 year new phone subsidies if you want to keep unlimited, which is the $20/month you mention.
  • Ah-HA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DWMorse (1816016) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:08PM (#40835161) Homepage

    So THIS is why they converted to the consumer benefit-free data-bucket plans. You can add any device to your plan, but they'll make sure it bites your smartphone and every other device in your plan in the ass if you make a single wrong step. Well played.

    FCC: "Can you hear us now?"
    VZN: "Yeah, and we got it covered."

    • by rgbrenner (317308)

      Huh??? Are you saying that previously you could tether a device and it would not have counted? Yeah right...

      You were going to get charged for the bandwidth either way. Previously it would have count against the smartphones data usage.

      your post really doesn't make any sense.

      • by Atzanteol (99067)

        Previously VZW offered unlimited 3G plans (like the one I'm still on). And if you root your phone you get free tethering. So no, it wouldn't count.

        • by msauve (701917)
          Tethering without paying for the tethering feature has always been a contract violation. This consent decree only changes that for 4G, not for 3G. You're an example of abusive customers who have caused cost to increase.
        • by tsotha (720379)
          Did they ever offer unlimited 4G plans, though?
  • Too late... (Score:5, Funny)

    by plazman30 (531348) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:09PM (#40835191) Homepage
    I'm still leaving as soon as the iPhone 5 comes out. Only so many times that you can be treated like complete crap before you won't take it any more.
    • Re:Too late... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:15PM (#40835259)

      i hope you realize the irony of your statement...

    • Re:Too late... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bonker (243350) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:16PM (#40835275)

      Wait... You're leaving Verizon because they've treated you like complete crap and are going to either Sprint or ATT?

      I mean, let's completely ignore for the moment how Apple treats their customers. Sprint or ATT? You SERIOUSLY think either of these guys will treat you better than Verizon?

      • Re:Too late... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dyingtolive (1393037) <brad.arnett@NosPam.notforhire.org> on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:18PM (#40835301)
        The warm glow of consumerism will shield him from ATT/Sprint.
      • by jxander (2605655)

        There area actually quite a few pay-as-you-go vendors that support high end phones these days.

        If you don't mind eating a $600+ initial investment to buy your own phone outright. Virgin Mobile has good reception in my area, and costs a mere $30/month for unlimited text and data.

      • You kinda failed to ignore Apple yourself there. I might leave Verizon for AT&T as well. They will have the more interesting Windows phone, the iPhone 5, and Androids that aren't Motorola (which I am no longer supporting). Sure, AT&T customers have their own complaints, but for years I've stuck with Verizon because Verizon swore that life outside Verizon walls was no life at all. It was cold and dangerous, and there was no connectivity. It's just not that true in my area. Besides, I know that once I

      • by OhPlz (168413)

        I had been a Verizon Wireless customer since the late 90s. I recently dropped them and went with a prepaid provider, switching to the unlocked Google Nexus sold directly from Google. I've had it for a few months now and there hasn't been anything to complain about. The monthly cost is about what I was paying for a lousy voice plan, grandfathered evdo data, and no texting on an ancient Motorola flip phone. These companies are just reselling the bigger company's network so the bargain may not last forever

    • Moving to Finland aye?

      (That was where most of the lowest price/best connectivity braggarts claim they're from, right?)

    • Re:Too late... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @06:16PM (#40835927)

      Before you get too excited about switching carriers, I should let you know I'm leaving AT&T because their idea of a contract is that I pay them until the contract is over, but they don't have to hold up their end of the deal. Here's my story:

      Last year I renewed my contract with Unlimited Data grandfathered in. Six months later they announced a 3 gig limit before 'throttling' would begin. (At this point I'd like to note that my contract does mention they'll play around with network performance as necessary, but the 3 gig limit is NOT specified in it.. they just arbitrarily added it.) They do not say, however, what the minimum speed will be. In my view, this is a critical component of the contract. The speed that they reduce the connection down to affects the tasks I can do with my phone. I don't care, for example, if I cannot watch Netflix on the road, but if I cannot get email or text messaging, then how can they really call it "unlimited"?

      I contacted their customer service, after going round and round with lines like "well if you use Wifi..." or "if you switch to a tiered plan..." or "... well it really won't affect you", I could not get an answer. One day I got a letter from AT&T from some VP of such and such department saying that I should be happy because they've upgraded the network in my area and that they're glad I'm continuing to be a customer of theirs. At the bottom was a request for feedback with this VP's email address. I emailed him explaining that I don't know what 'throttling' actually means and, instead of writing me back, he punted my message off to customer service. Frustrated, I emailed again and told them that if they had read my email they would realize that I'm addressing the VP and that customer service was already of no help and.. customer service, NOT the VP, replied again. They said that their network performance was proprietary information that they would NOT share with me. The only way I'll find out how slow my connection will be throttled is if I go over the limit and see what happens. I'm getting to a point where this is very tempting to do. I don't really want to abuse their resources but they're driving me to it.

      If you do end up going to AT&T I wish you luck, but I strongly recommend that you do NOT assume that any contract you enter into with them will mean you'll have any guarantees of service. Two years is a long time to be disgruntled.

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        Was there a guaranteed minimum speed on the old contract? That seems to be the crux of your complaint, but you don't indicate what the minimum guaranteed speed was originally. You also kind of walked past the fact that the original contract says they can adjust things on their own, arbitrarily, and without your input.

        I agree it's a shitty contract, but it doesn't sound like they have violated it or that they are outside of industry norms.

        • Was there a guaranteed minimum speed on the old contract?

          No, there was not, and you are right. If I had technical grounds to break the contract without an ETF I would.

          However, I did purchase the phone while they were running ads that you can do things like get email and view maps etc. It probably wouldn't hold up in a court of law, but from a customer service point of view they really should make good on what they showed us.

          • by gmhowell (26755)

            I understand where you're coming from.

            Unfortunately, in an oligopolic situation like we have with mobile phones, there's not much value in improving service of any sort.

      • by noc007 (633443)

        Maybe you need to file a complaint with the BBB, FCC, and/or FTC. I don't know which one or combination of them will help, if at all. The BBB seems to move a little faster than the FCC and FTC. Look at this article and how long it took the FCC to enforce the rules on the C-block.

        Personally I'm trying the BBB for my dispute with VZW. I did get a call from someone that wasn't on their standard CS team saying they've received the complaint and are looking into it.

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:10PM (#40835195) Homepage Journal

    ...wait.. what? They did something good for customers?

    [Gilda Radner] Never Mind [/Gilda Radner]

    • ...wait.. what? They did something good for customers?

      [Gilda Radner] Never Mind [/Gilda Radner]

      You really expect most Slashdotters to google Gilda?

      • ...wait.. what? They did something good for customers?

        [Gilda Radner] Never Mind [/Gilda Radner]

        You really expect most Slashdotters to google Gilda?

        You expect anyone to need to google Gilda?

      • Dude, what are you talking about? We're all fucking old.
    • by Sylak (1611137)
      The FCC tends to do things good for the consumer when it's NOT related to commercial broadcast TV and Radio spectrums.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Are the customers getting their money back?
      You know, for the tethering costs they should never have paid?

      ...wait.. what? The customers aren't?
      Never Mind

  • What does this mean for us that have unlimited 4G data plans?
    • by evilRhino (638506)
      It means that you can tether away. Just keep in mind that if you buy another subsidized phone, you will lose your unlimited plan.
  • So Verizon cannot charge for tethering on 4G service, this raises the question of whether they can continue to charge for tethering on 3G or 1x?

    Who in the world tethers a 1xRTT connection? 3G is more understandable, but still slow.

    • by Daetrin (576516)
      It's not quite 1x, but i do tether the 2g connection from my phone. I have multiple devices with WiFi only (DS, 3DS, Nexus 7) and my 2.5 year old phone only gets 2g. (Okay, technically it can get 3g, but due to a bug introduced about a year ago it randomly reboots if 3g is left on for a long period so i mostly just leave it on 2g all the time.)

      Although admittedly i certainly wouldn't _pay_ for the option, but since in my case it's free, why not?
    • I've done it when traveling... Gmail took a loooong time to load.
  • What they used to give me at no extra charge (tethering/hot-spot) they now charge $15/mo. I don't even use it very often but I DO use it. Most of the time, I don't even come close to my high-speed data limit (5 GB) either.

    • by sethstorm (512897)

      If you don't mind 3G, get an N900 (or similarly 3G capable phone that is equally carrier-hostile) and do tethering through that.

      Not sure about the carrier-hostile 4G equivalent though.

  • by sethstorm (512897) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @05:35PM (#40835521) Homepage

    If the FCC had any bravery in them, they'd find a way to kill off the rampant use of metered data - and without the carrier raising the cost.

    The lack of metered data is what had made the Internet good to work with. Now all it does is just engender politics about who gets exempt - much like the Bad Old Days of Compuserve.

    • by tsotha (720379)

      If the FCC killed off data metering and didn't allow the carriers to raise their prices, the carriers would respond the same way landlords respond to rent control - they wouldn't put another damn dime into improving their networks. Ten years from now the rest of the world would be on, like, 8G while here in the US we'd still be using the exact same network we're using today. You'd end up getting about ten kilobits per second during peak hours as everyone else using the closest cell tries bittorrent the la

  • This is good news. My Verizon Galaxy Nexus is supposed to allow USB tethering but when I tried it, I got a popup with an 800 number and a message saying I have to order a special data plane. I'd be happy with any kind of tethering so I can use my laptop where my phone works.
    • I'd be happy with any kind of tethering so I can use my laptop where my phone works.

      Would you be happy with having to move to a city where LTE (4G-Lite) service is offered? This ruling applies only to the frequency block that VZW is using for LTE, not the frequency block used for 2G or 3G. So be prepared to pay a tethering surcharge when you're "roaming" on VZW's 3G network.

      • Oh, I believe if Verizon isn't allowed to charge for 4g tethering, then they shouldn't be charging for 3g or 2g either. But, 4g is a first step. Also, I don't expect to have 4g wherever I go but now there's at least some chance I'll have a free connection. Its not like my phone doesn't tell me what type of data connection I have.
  • I read elsewhere that they can't block tethering apps, but they can continue charging for tethering.
  • this raises the question of whether they can continue to charge for tethering on 3G or 1x?

    The answer here is no, because of the very bit in the summary! It was a rider on their buying the spectrum block. Hence, other spectra are not effected.

  • In the mean time if your on a JB iPhone you can use the teatherme app from cydia to over ride the provder settings. But I know from all the slasdot haters the only reason to JB an iPhone is if your a Gasp... Pirate.

  • Refund?

    Refund????

    Refund????!!!!????


    I would like to yell it like dad did in Breaking Away [youtube.com], but the lameness of the /. lameness filter has rendered my post mostly lame.
  • They block tethering easily - that is until you install the Easy-Tether app on the phone. It's ten bucks but lets you use the 4G LTE connection. I'm still searching for software that'll make it a Wifi hotspot though.

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