FCC tells Verizon it can't block tethering apps

Generally speaking, cellular service providers rank up there with cable TV providers when it comes to making customers happy. Most of us spend way too much for cell service and whenever there's news it seems to be bad: prices going up, levels of service going down, or both.

But for once there's some good news for some Verizon customers. According to a post over at GigaOm, the FCC has stepped in to tell Verizon it can't block Android apps that turn your phone into a mobile hotspot. Here's the full FCC press release.

The good news (sort of) continues. The FCC also says that if you're on a limited data plan then Verizon can't charge you its usual $20/month mobile hotspot fee. However Verizon's new "Share Everywhere" plans already include mobile hotspot, so this clause is only going to impact a small segment of Verizon customers.

Unfortunately for those of us with grandfathered unlimited plans, we can still be charged $20/month for the option, but as GigaOm points out, Verizon won't be able to tell if you have a tethering app installed. At least in theory. AndroidCentral's Jerry Hildenbrand cautions us that Verizon might somehow monitor what we're doing and bill us anyway.

It's worth noting that the FCC's ruling is limited to Verizon since it is based on Verizon's 2008 purchase of "C Block" spectrum that required the company to allow open access to its network.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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