Verizon Wireless Must Allow Free Tethering After FCC Ruling

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Thanks to a ruling by the FCC, a large number of Verizon Wireless customers will once again be able to tether freely, without having to pay a monthly fee to the carrier for the privilege of using their phones as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Verizon WirelessThe Federal Communications Commission announced in a statement that Verizon could not block third-party tethering apps from the Android market, as preventing consumers from using any application of their choice is a violation of the rules governing the C Block of LTE spectrum.

So what does this mean for Big Red customers? The carrier will have to open up its airwaves and allow users to skirt its $20 monthly tethering plan. However, there is a clause. Only customers on a “usage-based priced plan” are eligible to circumvent the fee using apps from the Google Play store, while users who were grandfathered in to the unlimited data plans will be left out. Those who already have a new Share Everything plan can sign up for just a smartpone and then use a tablet or laptop under the same data plan, without paying extra for it, thanks to the new ruling.

Last May, Verizon began blocking apps from the Android app store that gave customers tethering abilities without having to pay its monthly fee. The FCC started an investigation of the company after reports of such activities surfaced. In addition to opening up its airwaves, Big Red is required to pay $1.25 million to the Treasury and to inform Google that it no longer restricts tethering apps in its app store.

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