Verizon must allow Android tethering apps, can’t charge fee, FCC rules

Verizon forced to allow tethering apps by FCC

Verizon may not block the usage of third-party tethering apps that turn Android devices into mobile hotspots, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled today. Nor may Verizon charge a $20 tethering fee for users on either tiered data plans or unlimited plans.

Verizon has agreed to pay a $1.25 million settlement fee to the U.S. Treasury to resolve the matter.

The FCC’s decision relies on the fact that Verizon purchased 700MHz spectrum from the U.S. government in 2008. As part of the deal, Verizon had to guarantee that it would not restrict the types of devices or applications used on that spectrum.

“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,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in a statement. “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.”

Because the FCC’s ruling is based solely on this “C-Block” spectrum deal, the same rules do not apply to AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile, all of which charge users a fee for using wireless tethering apps.

Tethering, for those of you wondering what the heck this is all about, allows users to access the Internet from other devices, like laptops, via their smartphone or tablet’s wireless signal.

Of course, users who pay for a usage-based data plan will still pay heavily for tethering their devices, since Verizon charges about $2 per megabyte over the initial allotted data (which starts at 1GB at a cost of $50 per month). Watch a video or two, and you’re looking at a massive phone bill coming your way. If you’re still on an unlimited plan, well, you win!

For those of you interested in getting in on the new, unfettered tethering goodness can find many tethering apps on the Google Play Store. We’d recommend giving PdaNet a go.

Mobile

This orange puck keeps you online in any country, with one hidden catch

Staying connected on your travels can be a challenge and sometimes results in hefty cell phone bills you could do without. We tried out the Skyroam Solis, a global Wi-Fi hotspot and power bank billed as the perfect solution.
Mobile

Google brings its high-accuracy emergency location tracking to the U.S.

Google has announced that its Emergency Location Service is coming to Android phones on T-Mobile, marking the service's U.S. debut. The service allows for high-accuracy location information to be sent to first responders.
Computing

AT&T’s new 5G network could adopt tiered billing, including a gaming plan

AT&T may be leveraging its 5G's fast speeds and low latency in order to create a special plan for gamers. AT&T didn't disclose what the 5G gaming plan will cost, but gamers could be free from Wi-Fi in the future.
Mobile

The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are up for pre-order -- here's where to buy them

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now that the phones are out, you might be wondering how you can get them for yourself.
Mobile

The Google Pixel 3 smartphone may arrive dressed in pink

Forget the Pixel 2: Google will announce its latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, on October 9 in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Mobile

Google’s Family Link expands globally, now works on more devices

Google's Family Link app makes it easier for parents to keep track of their kids' smartphone usage. They can restrict them from downloading apps, see which services they use the most, and more. Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

Dozens of bite-sized features add up to a feast in Android 9.0 Pie

Google’s latest version of Android is here, and it’s called Android 9 Pie. We’ve been using it for the past few months on a Google Pixel to see how this flavor stacks up.
Mobile

Google Play rewards system arrives in Japan, no sign of U.S. release yet

After some rumors, Google has finally revealed the existence of Google Play Points. But for now, it's only available in Japan, and there's no indication of when a U.S. or worldwide release is planned.
Mobile

Find out how Apple's new iPhones measure up to the most bezel-less designs

As the smartphone industry marches toward a bezel-less future, we compare the shrinking bezels on the latest and greatest devices. Find out which manufacturers have the smallest bezels on their smartphone as we measure them side by side.
Mobile

Mi 8 Pro looks like an iPhone, but has a feature Apple fans can only dream of

Xiaomi has launched two new phones in the Mi 8 family: The Mi 8 Pro and the Mi 8 Lite. Unlike the past models, these two are definitely going to be sold internationally. Here's what you need to know about them both.
Mobile

Apple iPhone XS vs. Samsung Galaxy S9: 2018’s biggest flagships clash

The iPhone XS has been revealed, and it's one of the best phones of the year. But even though it's Apple's latest and greatest, it's up against a lot of competition. Is the iPhone XS better than the Samsung Galaxy S9?
Mobile

Samsung exec confirms upcoming Galaxy S10 will sport 'very significant changes'

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Mobile

Be an online phantom and web surf safely with Ghostery’s mobile browser

Keeping your private information to yourself has become progressively harder in the internet age. If you're worried about your personal information, check out the new version of the Ghostery browser for iOS and Android.
Mobile

OnePlus 6T may launch soon with in-display fingerprint sensor, dual cameras

According to a recent report, the launch of the OnePlus 6T could be different from any other OnePlus launch in history. How? It could have the backing of a major U.S. carrier. Here's everything we know about the OnePlus 6T.