It’s my notion that when you purchase data services, your provider should not be concerned with how you go about accessing those services. It turns out I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Recently Free Press, a non-profit organization aiming to reform the media, has filed a complaint with the FCC asking them to investigate Verizon’s practice of restricting access to services through tethering–specifically citing Verizon’s request to remove tethering applications from its version of the Android Market. According to the complaint, this is in direct violation of the licensing rules Verizon agreed to when purchasing the spectrum used to roll out the LTE network.
In order to back up its claim, Free Press calls out a clause in the agreement, which states that the licensee “shall not deny, limit or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice.”
Free Press then explains in detail how the act of removing third-party tethering applications from the Android Market violates this clause. These are the major points of argument:
- Disabling access to tethering applications effectively limits the ability to use applications of one’s choosing.
- Removing tethering applications from the Android Market limits and restricts the ability to use devices of one’s choosing.
- Verizon’s actions violate the Commission’s rules, even though Verizon needs Google’s assistance to disable applications in the Android Market.
- The exemptions set forth in the C Block Rules do not excuse Verizon’s conduct.
The full complaint can be found on the Free Press website.
While this pertains to the LTE contract, I am not aware of any such clause applying to Verizon’s 3G network. So, this issue might be a question in three parts.
- Can Verizon differentiate between its 3G and 4G network? (Surely that is possible, right?)
- Does Verizon have an obligation to allow 4G handsets to use third-party tethering applications, if they are not using the 4G network while tethering?
- Does Verizon have an obligation to allow tethering at all?
So, what say you? Has Verizon violated the openness rules it agreed to when purchasing the spectrum for its LTE network? Or, does Verizon have a right to restrict how its customers access its network?