Let my Wi-Fi go: FCC rules Verizon can't charge for Wi-Fi tethering
In what may prove a landmark ruling, the FCC has stated that Verizon can no longer charge users for using their 4G devices as Wi-Fi hotspots.
In a US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling, Verizon was ordered to stop charging users an additional fee for using their 4G smartphones and tablets as Wi-Fi hotspots, aka tethering.
P. Michele Ellison, FCC, Enforcement Bureau Chief, said in a statement, “This case was the first of its kind in enforcing the pro-consumer open access obligations of the C Block [the spectrum band reserved for 4G] rules. It underscores the agency’s commitment to guarantee consumers the benefits of an open wireless broadband platform by providing greater consumer choice and fostering innovation.
As FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in the same document, "Today’s action demonstrates that compliance with FCC obligations is not optional. The open device and application obligations were core conditions when Verizon purchased the C-block spectrum. The massive innovation and investment fueled by the Internet have been driven by consumer choice in both devices and applications. The steps taken today will not only protect consumer choice, but defend certainty for innovators to continue to deliver new services and apps without fear of being blocked."
As a result of an agreement when Verizon acquired bandwidth in the C Block network, Verizon '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.'”
In addition, Verizon Wireless had to pay $1.25 million to the Treasury and to send out notification that they will no longer charge additional for this service.
This is one of several recent changes that Verizon and other carriers have made or are consider making as their revenues from voice-based services start to decline. As the younger generation prefers texting instead of “making phone calls” there is a pronounced shift in usage from voice to data.
Realistically, this recent ruling has only affected a small part of the data-based services offered by the major carriers. It is expected that in the near future the data plans will change to make up for the shift in usage.
Call to Action
It is common practice for Telecom departments to carefully scrutinize their monthly bills to make sure charges are righteous and constantly changing plans as behaviors change. This is NOT going to change.
What IS going to change is the unlimited data plans. It is expected that as these plans change there will be issues with the billing process and structure.
IT and business executives need to stay ahead of the carriers and make use of technologies like SKYPE and microcells to lower costs.