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Verizon Offers Free Tethering Because It Has To

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the but-watch-them-brag-how-nice-they-are dept.

Verizon 180

jfruh writes "Most U.S. wireless carriers are trying to have it both ways on tethering or smartphones-as-hotspots — moving people from unlimited data plans to plans where they pay by the gigabyte, but then also charging them extra if they want to share the gigabytes they've paid for with other devices. But on Android phones on Verizon, at least, you can still tether, not because Verizon is trying to be more consumer friendly, but because, according to an FCC ruling, they agreed to allow it when they bought formerly public spectrum."

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Not just Android devices (3, Informative)

CoolToe (2732573) | more than 2 years ago | (#41375853)

Tethering has worked from day one on Windows Phone devices.

Re:Not just Android devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41375923)

If you define day one as 'after the release of Mango'.

Re:Not just Android devices (5, Funny)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#41375949)

Yes, and I'm sure *both* Windows Phone users are enjoying that.

Re:Not just Android devices (5, Funny)

morcego (260031) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376011)

Yes, and I'm sure *both* Windows Phone users are enjoying that.

That is totally unfair and a total lie!

The USA isn't the world, man. There are at least 10 more users in other countries.

Re:Not just Android devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41376165)

And Verizon bought spectrum from the FCC there too?!

Re:Not just Android devices (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376185)

The USA isn't the world, man. There are at least 10 more users in other countries.

While that might be true Verizon, Microsoft, and Slashdot could all care less!

No hard feelings though, since none of them care about US users either.

Re:Not just Android devices (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41376699)

Yes, and I'm sure *both* Windows Phone users are enjoying that.

That is totally unfair and a total lie!

The USA isn't the world, man. There are at least 10 more users in other countries.

Converting to binary doesn't actually increase the userbase.

We have half a user in Canada (0, Flamebait)

kawabago (551139) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377137)

probably the bottom half since only an ass would use Windows.

Re:Not just Android devices (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377163)

So at least you outnumber the remaining OS/2 users.

Re:Not just Android devices (1)

Quanticfx (2443904) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376541)

I don't use the tethering and the guy who sits in the desk next to me, whom also has an HTC Trophy, doesn't use it either. So no, we are not currently enjoying that feature, but at least it's offered.

Re:Not just Android devices (1)

rullywowr (1831632) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377167)

Woah... Microsoft makes a phone that runs a version of Windows? No way!

Re:Not just Android devices (1)

yotto (590067) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377569)

Woah... Microsoft makes a phone that runs a version of Windows? No way!

You haven't heard of the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Phone running Microsoft Windows Phone 7 from Microsoft?

Re:Not just Android devices (4, Funny)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377595)

I had, but I thought it was a Linux distro...

Re:Not just Android devices (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41375977)

It's worked from day one on Android as well.

Re:Not just Android devices (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376103)

Tethering has worked from day one on most phones? This is to do with restrictions placed on plans by a carrier, not the hardware/software capabilities of the device/operating system.

FWIW I've tethered since the day I first got a smartphone (first on iPhone, then on an Android). But no carrier in the country I live in has ever restricted tethering AFAIK (why should they - I'm paying for the data either way, why do they care how I use it?) It's always seemed a bit mystifying to me why carriers in America seem to have a 'thing' about tethering as if something makes it different than any other form of data use.

Re:Not just Android devices (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376249)

Well the difference is the type of network traffic you will do on your phone vs. traffic you will do on your PC.

On your phone you are more or less just going to check your email, and browse a few pages. On your PC or Laptop, you will be doing hours of browsing and watching movies, and other activities.

I would actually prefer to have G4 and a tethering as my primary internet connection. Because I can take my phone and laptop anywhere and browse. But the current restrictions are too expensive.

Re:Not just Android devices (1)

Hes Nikke (237581) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377153)

On your phone you are more or less just going to check your email, and browse a few pages. On your PC or Laptop, you will be doing hours of browsing and watching movies, and other activities.

But why does it matter if I already paid for the data i'm going to consume?

Re:Not just Android devices (2)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377245)

Because then the carrier would actually have to invest some of those horrendous data rates on their infrastructure.

Re:Not just Android devices (4, Informative)

hazem (472289) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377367)

Because they've oversold their network capacity and would be in real trouble if everyone actually used as much data and bandwidth as they paid for.

Re:Not just Android devices (2)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377449)

On your phone you are more or less just going to check your email, and browse a few pages. On your PC or Laptop, you will be doing hours of browsing and watching movies, and other activities.

But why does it matter if I already paid for the data i'm going to consume?

Because up until recently, all networks offered an unlimited plan which they hoped would see only 1-2 GB of usage, max. This makes it cost-effective for them to simply let you use as much as you want, since the power users that really cram data down onto a smartphone are few and far between. Basically, they were over-subscribed but didn't actually have bandwidth contention (on most days). You paid for the service of using as much data *on your handset* and the carriers were keen on making you keep up your end of the deal (that was spelled out in your contract).

Now, few providers offer unlimited service so yes, users are paying per GB they use. And coincidentally, tethering is now free (without coercion) under the Verizon "share everything" plans, and according to this it's"free" to other users as well, even begrudgingly to the users still in possession of an unlimited plan.

Re:Not just Android devices (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377539)

Well the difference is the type of network traffic you will do on your phone vs. traffic you will do on your PC.

On your phone you are more or less just going to check your email, and browse a few pages.

As someone who regularly downloads multi-gig Linux ISOs on my phone, I have to disagree.

On your PC or Laptop, you will be doing hours of browsing and watching movies, and other activities.

Well, then, maybe Verizon shouldn't have spent so many marketing bucks pimping Netflix/Pandora streaming to their customers, if they didn't want/expect customers to actually use them.

Re:Not just Android devices (1)

Lucky75 (1265142) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376481)

It didn't work from day one on iPhones (without a tethering plan, at least).

Re:Not just Android devices (1)

SecurityTheatre (2427858) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376731)

But no carrier in the country I live in has ever restricted tethering

It didn't work from day one on iPhones (without a tethering plan, at least).

It did in other countries....

Re:Not just Android devices (3, Insightful)

Immerman (2627577) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376801)

I think it comes down to volume - you end to use far more bandwidth for longer periods on a PC, and since there's very little actual competition in the US market the carriers are in no hurry to build out capacity to actually provide the service they're charging for - which requires unpleasant things like investment that doesn't contribute to anybody's bonuses. Worse, once you have a network with enough capacity to handle the load non-tethering people might start asking uncomfortable questions like why they're being charged such ridiculous rates. Nothing good can come of it.

Oh no! Regulation! (5, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376021)

Look how GOVERNMENT REGULATION is ruining things for the consumer again!

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (2, Insightful)

CoolToe (2732573) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376051)

Look how GOVERNMENT REGULATION is ruining things for the consumer again!

That's why communism is ultimately the best way to go. Only with government regulation and government work program you can expect everything to go well for everyone.

Sure, there are no rich people anyway, but more people (all people) get to enjoy good life.

Thinking back (1, Offtopic)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376121)

Sure, there are no rich people anyway, but more people (all people) get to enjoy good life.

Yeah, I remember the bread lines in the old soviet union being the best of times. Why can't we all go back to that golden age?

Re:Thinking back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41376605)

Yeah, I remember the bread lines in the old soviet union being the best of times. Why can't we all go back to that golden age?

From the sounds of the drivel coming out of Mitt Romney, you will.

If there's only justice for the rich, there is no justice at all.

And don't even get me started on "papers please" ... Amerika has become a pathetic joke.

Re:Thinking back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41377307)

That is because the old Soviet Union was not a commnist state, they just like to think they were.

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41376127)

Now that we have technology, an Communist policy of work until it is setup and let it run could be interesting. It might not work in the US or any big countries, but for smaller countries it might make more sense.

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376485)

Techno-socialism. The view that socialist economic structures can work when combined with modern information technology to allow more efficient management and more accountability of the government. Idealistic.

Also the view that in the longer term it may be the only form of economic structure that can work, as traditional free-market capitalism is entirely dependant upon a labor market that may be almost entirely collapsed by the spread of very-low-cost automation of jobs.

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (2)

swan5566 (1771176) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376163)

Don't know if people older than 30 in Russia would agree with you.

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376215)

Only with government regulation and government work program you can expect everything to go well for everyone.

But... surely if we keep trying the Free Market over and over again it'll eventually work. History cannot repeat itself forever!

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377003)

Have we ever actually tried it? Or Marxism, for that matter.

Both free market supporters and Marx defended limited governments and distributed decision making, yet we somehow call our countries with huge, very powerful governments as if they represented implementations of those ideas. Makes no sense.

Â

The contradiction between the vocation and the good intentions of the administration on the one hand and the means and powers at its disposal on the other cannot be eliminated by the state, except by abolishing itself; for the state is based on this contradiction. It is based on the contradiction between public and private life, between universal and particular interests. For this reason, the state must confine itself to formal, negative activities, since the scope of its own power comes to an end at the very point where civil life and work begin. (...) The existence of the state is inseparable from the existence of slavery.

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41377401)

Government regulation didn't just start up randomly for no reason. This is a fact that the noisier of the conservatives blatantly ignore when they get on their soapboxes about 'liberty'.

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376303)

Yes, Lets go to the extremism. If some of it is good and a little bit more is better, then all of it must be best.

The trick is to find the right balance that our culture can tolerate.

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (4, Funny)

alexgieg (948359) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376749)

That's why communism is ultimately the best way to go. Only with government regulation and government work program you can expect everything to go well for everyone.

So, comrade, here it says you want one of those new "computer" things. I notice, however, that you haven't filled forms 1A to 25B showing what the social benefits arising from your possession of said "computer" would be. Please follow through in filling them and return when you're ready. Afterwards, provided all forms are correctly filled, and our revision committee agree with the social benefits described in your project, we'll add your request to the queue. How long it is? Oh, we calculate a five year wait at most, provided, of course, you keep your production levels within the required parameters of social utility. Also, don't forget to regularly attend your local political meetings, as requirements might change and this way you'll get first hand notice of any new forms in need of filling, and otherwise you might miss the submission window and be in need to restart the request procedure all over again. Needless to say, that would cause you to lose your place in the queue. Ah, you're welcome, comrade! Have a nice day too! Next!

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (1)

zennyboy (1002544) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377115)

Lacking mod points, but a great reply!

Actually it is a problem (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376085)

You might think forced free tethering is awesome.

Here's the actual effect it has had - everyone gets to pay more for data since everyone has to be able to tether. The new mandatory shared data plans are more expensive than older piecemeal plans. WHat about people that didn't want to pay for tethering? Too bad.

Re:Actually it is a problem (1)

CoolToe (2732573) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376125)

You might think forced free tethering is awesome.

Here's the actual effect it has had - everyone gets to pay more for data since everyone has to be able to tether. The new mandatory shared data plans are more expensive than older piecemeal plans. WHat about people that didn't want to pay for tethering? Too bad.

Government regulation is like violence. If little doesn't help, use more of it. In this case you regulate upper limit to the data plans. Make the limits low.

Re:Actually it is a problem (1)

SquarePixel (1851068) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376241)

Government regulation is like violence. If little doesn't help, use more of it.

Is that you, Kim Jong-un?

Re:Actually it is a problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41376187)

You might think forced free tethering is awesome.

Here's the actual effect it has had - everyone gets to pay more for data since everyone has to be able to tether. The new mandatory shared data plans are more expensive than older piecemeal plans. WHat about people that didn't want to pay for tethering? Too bad.

You really, seriously think that wouldn't have happened anyway? Seriously. When "charge by the megabyte" is the de facto standard for ultimately no reason other than "it's more profitable than actually improving our networks and you'll pay it anyway, so pay up, bitches!", completely without any government interference, you've got a LOOOOONG way to go to convince me that ANY fee increase on the part of any cellular service is the fault of any government regulation.

Re:Actually it is a problem (3, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376705)

Well, you might argue that the existence of a regulatory body like the FCC is part of the reason there are only a handful of nationwide U.S. carriers. That would be a somewhat specious argument (because in the absence of regulation, you'd probably also have a couple of jerks broadcasting broadband noise that makes the entire radio spectrum unusable), but many people make it anyway.

The real problem is that building out cellular infrastructure is expensive, and having multiple redundant infrastructures is expensive. This makes competition hard, and makes monopolies or oligopolies the default steady state. Without government intervention, such a market tends to be inherently anti-consumer. So you have to have either regulations that force competition or regulations that limit what the major players can do.

I could perhaps see a regulatory approach that limits the number of towers within a 30-mile radius to something on the order of one, and requires the carriers to sell off the remaining towers or spin them off into separate companies. That would result in a bunch of competing nationwide cellular networks that are forced to make roaming deals with one another in order to even function in cities. Combine this with rules that require interoperability (choose a single national standard) and rules that require RAND-ish tower access agreements, and you might actually get some real competition. Unfortunately, they'd probably choose a broken standard where handoffs between roaming and non-roaming cells isn't possible, and then you'd just make city-dwellers as cellularly miserable as folks out in the country....

Re:Actually it is a problem (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376773)

You really, seriously think that wouldn't have happened anyway?

I'm not sure, but I sure can see the effect we have now. You are now paying more than you were on Verizon for data than before they were forced to offer tethering.

To pretend that regulation has no effect on pricing plans is equally absurd.

Re:Actually it is a problem (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376277)

Does the cell network care if the data comes from the phone itself, or from the phone on behalf of something connected via USB or WiFi? No. Tethering makes no difference to the cost of the data plan because it is transparent to the system, except possibly for the bandwidth used (which you'd be paying for anyways). Tethering is just a piece of software on the phone. If you're paying extra for tethering, you're getting ripped off.

Re:Actually it is a problem (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376507)

Datawise, no. Phone calls, though transmitted digitally, are kept seperate from data by the network. It's a QoS thing, and also the reason you may find calls still work even if a data connection cannot be established.

That's how it works here in Europe, anyway. The US may be different.

Re:Actually it is a problem (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376757)

The problem for the carrier is that laptops tend to consume a lot more data - more background processes constantly fetching, more windows open and so on.

I'm not saying though it SHOULD cost extra. the companies should just charge for bandwidth. What I am saying is that the practical result of Verizon being forced to give everyone tethering is that they raised data rates to fold tethering costs in for everyone. If you really didn't use tethering before it was nice to get a cheaper data plan; now no such option exists.

Re:Actually it is a problem (1)

gwjgwj (727408) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377301)

Typically, when you buy more of something, you get a discount. Why it works the other way around in this business?

Re:Actually it is a problem (1)

animaal (183055) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376285)

You might think forced free tethering is awesome.

Here's the actual effect it has had - everyone gets to pay more for data since everyone has to be able to tether. The new mandatory shared data plans are more expensive than older piecemeal plans. WHat about people that didn't want to pay for tethering? Too bad.

Or maybe this will happen instead...

Users will be able to use the data they're paying for, regardless of what device is consuming it. People who don't use much data will opt for cheaper capped plans that only offer as much data as they need.

Are you suggesting is that it's more expensive for my carrier if I consume 1MB of data on a tethered laptop than if I consume the same on a phone-based browser? Or that people who don't use all the data they're paying for should be subsidising those who do?

Re:Actually it is a problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41376323)

Actually no.

Say you have 2 groups of people, those who don't want to tether and those who do. The provider will charge as much as they can get away with to both groups, charging extra for tethering. If tethering is free they cannot raise the price for those who don't want to tether as they will already be charging them as much as possible, if they were able to raise the price to those who will not tether they would already have done so. Or do you think they were going to charge people less than they are willing to pay?

Re:Actually it is a problem (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376811)

Actually yes.

They will of course charge as much as they can.

But the effect of regulation is that there is no lower "no tethering" price.

The end result is less choice for the user, and more expensive data plans for everyone regardless of interest in tethering.

Any way you look at it that's not an improvement for the user. It scores an important pedantic victory in that data is just data, which is at it should be. But you cannot claim it helps real users because it did not.

Re:Actually it is a problem (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377615)

And just why can the company raise rates after tethering becomes manditory again?
They're already charging all they can, by your own claims. How do they keep customers who don't want or simply can't afford the extra feature? Will these people just come up with more money from somewhere to pay for the extra feature they don't want? Then the company could have been charging them more for the features they wanted all along, because they will pay more now to get what is, for them, for the same set of features they wanted all along, so the company wasn't doing what you claimed. Your position seems to be based on them charging all they can (but not really), and only switching to charging all they can (and this time, we mean it) when they have to keep a promise they made to be given a monopoly on a limited commodity by the government.

Re:Actually it is a problem (2)

GoogleShill (2732413) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376413)

And the deregulation of the telecom industry caused every cell provider to roll out their own infrastructure and not share technology standards (GSM, CDMA). This caused consumers to pay for redundant towers everywhere which is one of the reasons why most of Europe has faster and cheaper cell service than the US.

Re:Actually it is a problem (5, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377619)

This caused consumers to pay for redundant towers everywhere which is one of the reasons why most of Europe has faster and cheaper cell service than the US.

Actually Europe had slower cell service because the EU mandated GSM. GSM is a TDMA technology. In TDMA, the phones basically take turns talking with the tower. The tower divides each 1/20th of a sec into timeslices. Each phone gets one timeslice per 1/20th sec, regardless of whether or not it has anything to say. If I'm talking with my mom and there's a 10 second pause while she looks for something, my GSM phone still takes up all its timeslice of the tower's time, wasting the bandwidth. Same if I was using a data connection to browse the web and paused to read the slashdot comments I just downloaded. The phone was still connected to the tower, so it still got its timeslice, wasting the bandwidth.

But the U.S. decided to take a hands-off approach and let the technologies compete. Half the carriers went with GSM, the other half went with CDMA. And when data services started to become important, CDMA completely wiped the floor with GSM. CDMA is based on orthogonal codes, like one person writing on a chalkboard horizontally while another writes on it rotated 90 degrees. They're overwriting each other, but because the letters have enough distinguishing marks, you can read what both have written. The key here is that CDMA doesn't waste bandwidth. As you approach capacity, the noise floor (from codes overwriting each other) increases until the error correction can't cope. But if someone has an active voice or data connection, but isn't saying or transmitting anything, then there's no noise added, and no bandwidth used.

This is why the CDMA carriers rolled out 3G data service more than a year sooner than GSM carriers. CDMA won. There was simply no way for GSM technology to compete as a data service because it wasted so much bandwidth. GSM was forced to take an extra year to design completely new (non-TDMA) data protocols, and add a second radio to GSM phones for data (since the GSM voice radio was TDMA-only). Many if not most of the data protocols were based on CDMA or wideband CDMA, they just disguised the fact by adding it to the GSM standard. So even if you have a GSM phone, there's a good chance you used CDMA for data prior to 4G. (Incidentally, this is why you could talk and use data at the same time on GSM networks. It wasn't because GSM was better. It was because it was worse, and they were forced to add a second radio to GSM phones just for data. CDMA uses the same radio for voice and 3G data. The limitation is gone with 4G, since LTE requires a different radio than GSM voice or CDMA voice. Unless you do a stupid design like the iPhone.)

So you can thank the U.S.' free-market approach and the CDMA carriers for the high-speed cellular data network speeds you enjoy today. If the entire world had standardized on GSM, it would've taken years longer for data speeds to reach what they are today because there would've been no competing high-speed data service to shame GSM into improving. (LTE is based on orthogonal frequencies [wikipedia.org] - similar concept to CDMA except the orthogonality is in the frequencies used by each device instead of the coded signals. It requires more CPU cycles to untangle the different signals, CPU cycles which consumed too much power previously, but which is now within reach of a mobile device which has to last a day on battery.)

As for your number of towers argument, the TDMA for GSM voice (yes, voice transmissions still use TDMA in GSM) artificially limits the range of the tower. For the phone to communicate with the tower during its timeslice, its signals traveling at the speed of light have to reach the tower before the majority of its timeslice is over. This artificially limits the range of a GSM tower to about 20 miles. If you want to cover a rural area with GSM, you still have to plop down a tower every 40 miles. CDMA doesn't care about range. Your phone could be 100 miles away; as long as the tower can pick up your phone's signal, you can still communicate with it. So in sparsely-populated rural areas, GSM forces you to build many more towers than is actually needed to provide the expected bandwidth for service. With CDMA, you just reduce the number of towers in rural areas to match the bandwidth requirements.

Re:Actually it is a problem (1)

SecurityTheatre (2427858) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376767)

Except those expensive plans were introduced BEFORE the tethering ruling came down....

They wanted to charge you more AND charge you for tethering, obviously.

No regulations had to force their hand, since the way they corner models of phones and geographical rollouts is borderline anti-competitive itself

Re:Actually it is a problem (2)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376857)

The new pricing scheme was implemented in June. It wasn't until the end of July that the FCC dropped the tethering pricing ban on Verizon.

If anything, this will just increase the data demands for Verizon, and they'll keep charging you more... Because that's what they do.

Re:Actually it is a problem (1)

ewieling (90662) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377013)

If Verizon did not want to "allow customers to freely use the devices and applications of their choosing.", then they should not have purchased spectrum ("C Block") which requires just that.

Re:Actually it is a problem (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377181)

Do you believe that Verizon's prices are determined by their costs?

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (1)

GoogleShill (2732413) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376115)

As soon as they start complaining that they can't be competitive with that restriction in place, some lobby-paid jerk will remove it.

It's not free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41376147)

Since the court, in their infinite and activist wisdom, decided it's included merely because it used to be part of a public spectrum that Verizon is obligated to allow tethering. This is just another thinly veiled move to redistribute wealth. In the end all Verizon user will have to make up the difference; end users ALWAYS do. That's precisely why whining over details is an effort in futility.

Re:It's not free. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41376281)

It's not just because it used to be part of public spectrum. It's because when Verizon bought it, they bought it under the terms that they would not restrict the type of data being sent/received on that spectrum in any way, regardless of the previous status of that spectrum being public or not. So, Verizon bought the spectrum knowing damn well that they were not allowed to restrict tethering on that spectrum according to the contract of that sale. If they didn't want to follow that, then they should have bought different spectrum that didn't have those terms.

Re:It's not free. (1)

rullywowr (1831632) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377317)

It's not just because it used to be part of public spectrum. It's because when Verizon bought it, they bought it under the terms that they would not restrict the type of data being sent/received on that spectrum in any way, regardless of the previous status of that spectrum being public or not. So, Verizon bought the spectrum knowing damn well that they were not allowed to restrict tethering on that spectrum according to the contract of that sale. If they didn't want to follow that, then they should have bought different spectrum that didn't have those terms.

Well they would have bought different spectrum if it was available however there is no better spectrum than the "Digital Dividend" of 698-806 MHz (even if other choices were available). This frequency range is akin to "beachfront property" because of its awesome wave propagation characteristics. You can send a (RF) signal the farthest distance with the least amount of output power (mW) in the 700 MHz. Since mobile telephones are restricted on how much output power they can emit, this frequency range is the sweet spot and hence wireless companies were eager to snap it up.

Think about it, there had to be a GOOD reason the FCC decided to make all other wireless devices in that spectrum range illegal to operate and instantly obsolete (Wireless Microphones etc.) AND force all the terrestrial TV stations below 698 MHz...The reason was actually billions of reasons. Billions of pieces of paper with images of dead presidents on it paid to the FCC (who knows where it actually went to).

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (2)

alexgieg (948359) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376517)

Look how GOVERNMENT REGULATION is ruining things for the consumer again!

You've got it reversed. This is government trying to hack a fix to an earlier error: that of providing private parties monopolies over natural wireless frequencies. If that first government intervention hadn't happened, allowing instead the free market to develop technological solutions to the obvious fact that you'd have tons of people trying to use the same frequencies, then you wouldn't need such a hack. And neither the new hack down the line that will appear when this one proves problematic, and so on and so forth.

Want an actual solution? Apply the Chodorov Principle [mises.org] of abolishing the actual source of the problem rather than trying to fix it over and over again.

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (2)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377685)

Apply the Chodorov Principle of abolishing the actual source of the problem rather than trying to fix it over and over again.

The problem with that post is that [nearly] every government program X was created in response to problem B. Kill X, problem A caused by X goes away, problem B comes back.

In this case, how long will cellphones work before radio interference makes broadcast anything unusable?

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376671)

Government regulation is the direct CAUSE of our telecom monopolies in the first place. That didn't work out so well, so they try to apply band-aid after band-aid. Talk about breaking your leg and giving you crutches. "See, without us you wouldn't be able to walk!"

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (1)

helix2301 (1105613) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376989)

"The FCC a governing body appointed not elected answerable only to the president." George Carlin on the FCC

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (2)

gishzida (591028) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377343)

So what you are saying is that you approve of the idea that government regulation is interfering with corporate profits and you would like the wireless carriers to be able charge you multiple times for providing the same service based upon that carrier purchasing the right to use a publicly owned resource-- the wireless spectrum. Endorsing the idea that a corporation should be allowed to do whatever it wants is in effect saying you want a totalitarian corporate state...

Then I take it that you would approve and be willing to use the electric power grid under the following rules:

All electric power companies / utilities charging you extra for each item you connect to their power grid. One fee for your TV, another for your Refrigerator, one for your laptop, one for each wall wart and of course this would all be in addition to your monthly kilo-watt hours usage. and fuel consumption surcharges. and lets not forget about their putting a maximum cap on how many kW-H you can use [unless you pay an additional fee]. not to mention additional fees and charges if you use someone's power to charge or power your devices. Would you like to pay for your power that way?

Communications carriers like Verizon are "public utilities" and should legally be treated as such. The only reason they are not is that they buy the appropriate legislation or legislators. American phone companies are ripping American consumers off... *legally* because we don't head their thievery off in Congress and in State Legislatures.

In some ways it was better to have Ma Bell...

Re:Oh no! Regulation! (2)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377371)

You are aware that government regulation is what lets carriers "own" any part of the electromagnetic spectrum at all?

It's stuff like this (5, Insightful)

rtkluttz (244325) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376027)

That prove that consumer protections in the electronics industry are badly needed. Enshrine the separation of hardware and software in all electronics, and enshrine that owners cannot be locked out of their own devices.

Tethering is a built in function of all android devices that is artificially crippled because crap like this is allowed to go on. Yea yea yea, I know you can hack YOUR OWN DEVICE and put a different OS of your own choice on it. I already do that (cyanogenmod), but you shouldn't have to hack past security that locks you out of your own electronics.

Re:It's stuff like this (1)

englishknnigits (1568303) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376733)

Or how about not have government enforced and propped up monopolies that prevent any substantive competition that would force carriers to offer these types of benefits to get an edge over their competitors? Yes, if we want to keep the monopolies/oligopolies we need more regulation but that isn't the only, or best, option.

Re:It's stuff like this (1)

ChiRaven (800537) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377243)

Enshrine the separation of hardware and software in all electronics,

So no more Apple Macintoshes running a Mac OS? Or iPhones running the Apple iOS? That is just plain never going to happen.

Re:It's stuff like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41377287)

> So no more Apple Macintoshes running a Mac OS? Or iPhones running the Apple iOS?

Nobody said that. Basically, you'd no longer be able to assume that Apple Macintosh runs MacOS or iPhone runs Apple iOS because the owner of the hardware would be allowed to change it.

Re:It's stuff like this (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377781)

Enshrine the separation of hardware and software in all electronics, and enshrine that owners cannot be locked out of their own devices.

Actually, in this case, I think it's simpler than that. The owner of a pipe should not own what's transmitted over the pipe. This is true for electricity, gas, water, etc. It's slowly becoming true for cable TV and phone service. And it needs to become true cellular phone service. The cellular service providers should be prohibited from owning the towers. The companies which own the towers should contract out access to the service providers, and the service providers sell monthly plans to you and me. That way the tower owners compete directly based on the quality of their tower connections. And the service providers compete directly based on the cost-effectiveness of their plans. None of this stupid "I hate Verizon's plans, but they have the best coverage so I subscribe to them" BS.

Other carriers (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376059)

Does Verizon lease or share these frequencies with any other carriers? I know there are quite a few CDMA based carriers, and they do share a significant amount of towers.

Actually... (4, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376067)

They still offer the built-in tethering on 4G devices for $20 / mo. I know this because I have one of these devices. You have to install a third party app from the market to get free tethering. Verizon is relying on consumer ignorance of the FCC decision to continue to grab revenue.

Re:Actually... (3, Interesting)

skarphace (812333) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376849)

And those third party apps are severely limited(HTTP only, for instance). So don't expect to have any fun or do any real work with it without jumping through some hoops.

Re:Actually... (2)

AdmiralWeirdbeard (832807) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377467)

With PDAnet at least, the http only limitation is only for the free version of the app, not anything to do with the tethering functionality itself. drop $15 on the full versio of the app and have full functionality. I'm personally just fine with paying $15 to a dev then having free service, rather than nothing to the dev and $20 a month service.

Works perfectly well for me (2)

bogie (31020) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377497)

I use Foxfi and it couldn't be easier. Name the SSD you want to use, put in a password and Go. http, https, ftp, skype all work fine. I can do everything I would do when I am normally working. It's the same as being on any other WAP.

3G and 4G? (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376193)

Or just the one spectrum.

Re:3G and 4G? (2)

steveg (55825) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376701)

Verizon does not charge separately for 3G and 4G. They don't really have a mechanism for treating them separately.

If you use the tethering capaibility that comes with the OS, it will pop up a dialog that will sign you up for their tethering plan at $20 a month. It won't work if you don't sign up.

However, there are free apps in the Market (excuse me, Google Play) that will allow free tethering. The one I installed just checks to make sure it has internet connectivity before firing up its hotspot. No evidence that it cares whether it's 3G or 4G.

Previously those apps had been withdrawn from the Market at Verizon's request. Of course that was just a mistake, and the Verizon employee that made that request has been reprimanded, since of course Verizon would never have considered restricting them...

Definitely NOT FREE (5, Insightful)

calzones (890942) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376253)

They don't offer free tethering because you have to pay for what you consume.

That other companies have the temerity to charge you extra just for the privilege of tethering is a whole other problem. That would be like the water company charging you extra for the privilege of using water to wash with instead of just drinking it.

The fact is, we pay for data plans, unlimited or metered. Either way, it should be ours to do as we wish with! The telcos should not be allowed (should not have any right) to impose on us any kinds of fees or limitations on what we have purchased from them. End of story.

Re:Definitely NOT FREE (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376419)

This is one of those things that used to make sense from the carrier's POV.

It used to be that browsers and software on mobile devices sucked(Sometimes they sucked because of hardware limitations), and often was easier on usage than tethered computers(Plus speeds just weren't that great to begin with). It's the difference between using the water from your tap to drink and using it to fill Olympic sized swimming pools.

Now the simple reality is, smart phones can do what a computer can and way more. Carriers need to get with the times. Give us tethering for free.

Re:Definitely NOT FREE (1)

Gingernads (831161) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376683)

They don't offer free tethering because you have to pay for what you consume.

That other companies have the temerity to charge you extra just for the privilege of tethering is a whole other problem. That would be like the water company charging you extra for the privilege of using water to wash with instead of just drinking it.

The fact is, we pay for data plans, unlimited or metered. Either way, it should be ours to do as we wish with! The telcos should not be allowed (should not have any right) to impose on us any kinds of fees or limitations on what we have purchased from them. End of story.

Tethering charges on mobile phones are equivalent to the water company charging you more for attaching a hose to your tap so you can water your garden. Gouging, pure and simple. To those who say "but people watch videos and stuff on their laptops but just check email on their phones", plenty of people watch video on their phones and many only use their laptops for email. Don't make sweeping assumptions about everyone. The logical outcome to this scenario is charging for data usage by app type. Tethering obscures that, so precludes any move to that sort of business model. I paid for a set amount of data, not any consumption velocity or data type restrictions. If I wanted to use my month's allowance in less than an hour by streaming some HD video, then that's my choice. The way it works right now, lots of mobile networks are under-provisioned, meaning that even if I want to spend more money on heavy data usage, they aren't in any position to sell it to me. Don't even get me started on their "unlimited*" (*limited) marketing bullshit. How long can these phone companies and ISPs keep going without providing what their customers actually want?

This was cool until... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41376325)

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57485518-94/what-verizons-fcc-tethering-settlement-means-to-you-faq/

Yes I know its Cnet, but it gives a good explanation of what is going on.

  What if I have an old Verizon unlimited data plan? Can I download an app and avoid the $20 tethering fee too?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no. Verizon says that customers under the unlimited plan are required by the company's terms of service to pay an additional fee to tether their device.

So you either keep the unlimited data plan and pay the fee or you switch the new plan and lose my unlimited data.

  Does this mean that Verizon will no longer charge for tethering?

On June 28, Verizon introduced new wireless service plans that include tethering in the base price of the plan. So for new customers, they will not be charged extra to use their phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

So again I am still being screwed,

Re:This was cool until... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41376725)

I'm not sure what to make of this. I searched to see if I was free to tether, but got the same info as above.

I don't have a unlimited plan, so I'm good there. However, I don't have the new plans that came out on June 28th, we got our phones around March.....

So great slashdotters, am I screwed? Am I hanging in limbo?

Re:This was cool until... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41377095)

Should have bought a Palm Pre Plus when it was available. I have unlimited data plan for my phone, and a 5 GB cap for my tethering and no tethering fee as long as *knocks on wood* my phone works.

Google Wallet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41376365)

Now everyone file FCC complaints that they are restricting google wallet from being installed.

iOS? (1)

patmandu (247443) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376389)

Not that they need to improve their standing, but Apple could score a LOT of points here by allowing a tethering app into the App Store so iOS users could use this feature also...

Re:iOS? (1)

SecurityTheatre (2427858) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376803)

Tethering is built into iOS. Verizon pushes out a special configuration command to disable it.

I'm certainly glad I don't live in the US anymore... This being just a small one of many reasons. :-)

Re:iOS? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377019)

Score points with users, but seriously lose them with carriers. Apple needs to maintain a good relationship with both.

Works fine on my 4S (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41377779)

Tethering is not disabled on "Share Everything" plans.

no, they don't. (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376521)

Whenever I try to activate tethering on my Verizon Droid X2, they want me to call corporate and buy it for some $20/month.

Re:no, they don't. (1)

yotto (590067) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377603)

Whenever I try to activate tethering on my Verizon Droid X2, they want me to call corporate and buy it for some $20/month.

That's why you get a program like EasyTether or AZILink.

Which is kind of funny (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376599)

Because the iPad has tethering built in and enabled by default, for no additional fee, on the Verizon network. It's the biggest reason I selected the VZ version over the ATT version (well, that at the VZ version can still use ATT 3G network, but not visa versa).

Re:Which is kind of funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41377073)

So, every iPad is hotspotting by default? Did you see this on Faux News or something?

I think things like this.... (3, Interesting)

firesyde424 (1127527) | more than 2 years ago | (#41376723)

Are why prepaid carriers seem to be doing better. A few months ago when I went in for an upgrade, I found out that my old plan was no longer allowed on smart phones and we were going to need to add $30 a month per line to get our upgrade with a new contract. We decided to shop around and found Straight Talk. We did some math and discovered that we would come out ahead almost $700 over the course of two years, even with buying our own phones at retail.

So we said bye bye Verizon and have been enjoying that extra $80 a month in our budget ever since.

Re:I think things like this.... (2)

macromorgan (2020426) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377527)

Of course Straight Talk still is beholden to AT&T's limitations (you can't tether without an extra fee on AT&T = you can't tether on Straight Talk, you can't use FaceTime over 3G on AT&T without an extra fee = you can't use FaceTime over 3G on Straight Talk).

Tethering is free in Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41376983)

If you have a data plan with at least 1GB/mo bandwidth, tethering is free with most carriers in Canada.

Nothing is free, Pal. (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377417)

They're not offering free tethering. They're just charging EVERYONE for it, and every other carrier is perfectly happy to go along and match their price.

There is no such thing as a free lunch.

paying for tethering? right... (2, Insightful)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 2 years ago | (#41377697)

I mean come on, it has to be the U.S where people actually acept that tethering is some extra special "service" and it's justifiable to ask extra money for "providing" it. If my carrier would ask money for that, I'd leave them on the spot. I changed carriers for less than that, and the world didn't collapse. For a long time I thought the U.S. was the paradise of Internet and mobile phones and unlimited data plans. But then I actually started to go there a lot and it was farly quick to realize most cell companies just take people for fools, take subscribers as granted, rip them off with a lot of stupid stuff, and just see them and an endless money source. And the most weird thing, lots of people are so used so used to this, that they don't even think about it much anymore.
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