Verizon Wireless has come under heavy criticism in recent weeks for an apparent agreement with Google to block its customers from downloading Internet tethering software that lets users share their phone’s data connection with other devices.
Reacting to reports of the restricted service, media reform group Free Press — one of the leading groups that advocated for net neutrality rules — filed an official complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that accused Verizon of violating federal regulations.
“Mobile broadband providers have a financial stake in limiting access to third-party tethering applications. As noted above, many tethering applications are available for free or for a modest fee. Of the approximately fifteen tethering applications listed in the web version of the Android Market, the most expensive one costs $31, but many are free and the vast majority cost less than $15. By contrast, when Verizon introduced the Droid, it charged $30 per month for tethering service on top of its $30 per month ‘unlimited’ data plan.”
While the move is not surprising on Verizon’s part, it is for Google. Several years ago the search giant entered a bidding war for wireless spectrum licenses with no intent to win it, merely seeking to drive up the price to trigger regulations that would prohibit limiting applications and locking out software from mobile devices.
Although Google has not confirmed that they are blocking access to the software through the Android store, numerous reports have confirmed that this is indeed the case.
It is unclear, however, if the complaint filed by Free Press has any merit: Verizon could simply say it goes against their terms of service or the technical specifications of their network.
Still, the advocacy group persists in it’s claim. “Users pay through the nose for Verizon’s LTE service, and having done so, they should be able to use their connections as they see fit,” they wrote. “Instead, Verizon’s approach is to sell you broadband but then put up roadblocks to control your use of it.”
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 5 million unique readers per month and serves more than 19 million pageviews.