Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Verizon Tethering: Now a Right not just a Privilege

The world of litigation has been kept in cigars and monocles by wireless companies. These mighty gladiators of the tort promise results for these companies that keep them in their $1500 lunch billables. But recently the paper pushers had the paper pushed down their throats instead of the other way around. It seems like a small victory, but it has the wireless world abuzz as to what it means and how it will affect the way all of it will move forward. Because the US government finally said no to someone.  Which if you’ve watched the news lately, they don’t do a lot.

Verizon Wireless is at the center of this hurricane. Verizon Wireless agreed when the government sold them their new bandwidth that they would allow users to use the bandwidth however they pleased. They could use it for their tablets, phones, refrigerators whatever they wanted. Verizon had no problem at first, but then they realized that some people were using their wireless devices as WiFi hotspots for their other devices. Without paying the extra $20  for it!

That could equal a couple thousand dollars for this multi-billion dollar company. This would not stand, so they sent in their lawyers who charged millions to get people to stop “tethering” their devices.  I’m sure this all made sense at the time. But when it finally reached the highest court Verizon’s lawyers valiantly fought the FCC. Until they finally conceded that, yes, they did agree to let people do whatever they wanted with the bandwidth. 

So they gave the US Treasury 1.25 million dollars and told Google they could go letting people do that thing that only .02% of the population knows how to do anyway. So the big question is, why does anyone care?  Probably thing that is most important is that the government is starting to crack the whip on wireless companies. Wireless companies are still continuing grow so they are job creators, even if most of those jobs are in China.

So when the gov’t doesn’t give them exactly what they want they may take their ball and go home. But the gov’t told them no anyway. Verizon agreed to certain things when they bought the bandwidth and now they have to abide by them. And shockingly Verizon didn’t take their ball and go home, cause there’s nowhere else to go.

But what does having the ability to tether actually mean to you as a consumer? Not really that much. If you have an Iphone it means nothing, if you have any other kind of smartphone you can download a tethering app and use it for your other devices, which is cool. How great the wifi is just from your phone? Probably not great. But now you have the ability to do it, whether Verizon likes it or not. Which is also kind of cool, until they find a way around it.