WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it had reached a settlement with Verizon Wireless over Free Press’ complaint that Verizon was violating the rules that govern the licenses for the carrier's 4G LTE network.
Last year, reports revealed that Verizon asked Google to disable tethering applications in the Google Play Store. Free Press argued that by preventing customers from downloading these applications that allow customers to use their phones as mobile hotspots, Verizon violated conditions of its 700 MHz C Block licenses, the spectrum in which Verizon operates its LTE service. When Verizon purchased the licenses, it agreed to abide by conditions that it not “deny, limit or restrict” its customers’ ability to use the applications or devices of their choosing.
Verizon agreed to pay $1.25 million to the U.S. Treasury for the violation, and to implement a C Block compliance plan.
Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood made the following statement:
"Today's action makes it clear that Verizon was flaunting its obligations as a spectrum-license holder and engaging in anti-competitive behavior that harmed consumers and innovation.
"The FCC sent a strong signal to the market that companies cannot ignore their pro-consumer obligations. Unfortunately, the fact that Verizon worked to block these apps in the first place is a clear indication that wireless providers have a strong incentive to discriminate against certain content and applications, an incentive that continues to threaten online freedom and innovation. While we are pleased that the FCC finally acted on our long-standing complaint, and did so before taking action on Verizon's pending spectrum acquisitions, we remain concerned that consumers of other carriers lack the same basic protections that Verizon's customers have under the law."