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Verizon Plays Dumb About Blocking Android Tethering Apps
Blames Google TOS...They Helped Create
by Karl Bode 09:25AM Monday Jun 20 2011
Earlier this month consumer advocacy firm Free Press filed an FCC complaint over Verizon's attempts to kill off tethering apps, something the group states violates the conditions attached to 700MHz spectrum acquired during the AWS auction. As we noted at the time, the tactic is a long shot -- given those conditions contain ample loopholes giving Verizon freedom to do largely anything, so long as they insist it's being done to protect the integrity of the network. Free Press continues undeterred, and is trying to drum up political support for the effort by sending letters to the leadership of the House and Senate Commerce Committees.

Google's blocking of tethering apps at carrier request from the Android Marketplace last month is what started this whole affair, though Verizon breathlessly insists that they played no role in making this happen:
quote:
Verizon says it was Google, not Verizon, that removed the apps. "Verizon does not block applications," the company said in a statement. "Google manages its own applications store, evaluated the applications in question, determined that they were in violation of it terms of service and removed them." Verizon may not have removed them, but they wanted them removed. A source familiar with the application take-down says that Verizon pointed Google to those apps as a violation.
So while Verizon blames Google for pulling tethering apps because they "were in violation of terms of service," it was Verizon who made sure that tethering apps were a TOS violation in the first place. Google's also culpable in helping Verizon and AT&T cripple phones and filter applications to force more users to pay additional tethering fees, and it's clearly another sign that Google's supposed dedication to openness just isn't what it used to be.

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thegeek
Premium
join:2008-02-21
right here
kudos:2

"Illegal" Tethering Will Continue

Even with the apps pulled from the market you can still get the apps from other sources. Unless Verizon decides to also pull an AT&T and disable side loading of apps. Even then, most users who want to tether frequently are savvy enough to know to get a phone that has developer support, root it, then load a custom ROM and a tethering app. The developers will stay a step ahead of Verizon on this one I believe. When Verizon takes a step to stop it, the devs will find a way to get around it.

dvd536
as Mr. Pink as they come
Premium
join:2001-04-27
Phoenix, AZ
kudos:4

Re: "Illegal" Tethering Will Continue

said by thegeek:

Even with the apps pulled from the market you can still get the apps from other sources. Unless Verizon decides to also pull an AT&T and disable side loading of apps. Even then, most users who want to tether frequently are savvy enough to know to get a phone that has developer support, root it, then load a custom ROM and a tethering app. The developers will stay a step ahead of Verizon on this one I believe. When Verizon takes a step to stop it, the devs will find a way to get around it.

Eventually there will be detection of ROM checksum and if they don't match, the provider won't let the device on their network. then a rooted phone running that sweet ROM will be worthless without service!
--
You only need two tools in life - WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

The Beauty and Detriment of Android

Android allows the flexibility for consumers and carriers to go about doing what they're doing with the OS. The bad thing is that consumers and carriers have the flexibility to go about doing what they're doing with the OS. This cat and mouse game will continue. Of course, it'll soon be mostly irrelevant once caps and meters are fully implemented. VZW will eventually allow consumers to do whatever they'd like with their devices and data plans, but they're going to pay for that privilege

Sounds a little familiar to the whole AT&T/Apple/Google Voice debacle. Things will eventually sort out and consumer prices will likely increase because of newfound coziness with metered data plans and allowing consumers to use their apps of choice.

JasonOD

@comcast.net

I see nothing wrong with this.......

Google is simply following the rules they agreed to in order to get into the game. You can't expect the carriers to allow handsets to circumvent or destroy their business models.
talz13

join:2006-03-15
Avon, OH

Re: I see nothing wrong with this.......

said by JasonOD :

Google is simply following the rules they agreed to in order to get into the game. You can't expect the carriers to allow handsets to circumvent or destroy their business models.

I wonder how many people or businesses actually use the overpriced tethering add-on options? Are you saying that rooted, tethered phones are taking away from the carriers' sale of data card plans?
itguy05

join:2005-06-17
Carlisle, PA

Re: I see nothing wrong with this.......

said by talz13:

I wonder how many people or businesses actually use the overpriced tethering add-on options? Are you saying that rooted, tethered phones are taking away from the carriers' sale of data card plans?

I do. I turn it on when needed and turn it off a couple days after I'm done. Verizon will prorate it. And I don't have to worry about a possible huge bill. $20 is cheap for full internet access for the wife and I wherever we go. Heck, it's a couple day passes for WiFi at an airport, hotel, etc.

Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2

Re: I see nothing wrong with this.......

I'm not sure if I've just been lucky, or if people are over complicating the problem. I have PDANet, which tethers my laptop to my VZ droid X. My Asus Transformer (android tablet) tethers to the phone via bluetooth, without the need for any extra software. And both work just fine without a tethering plan.

So what is it people are upset about?
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

Re: I see nothing wrong with this.......

I believe people are upset because the Market no longer makes available the tethering apps. Finding them isn't that difficult if people really want them. Kind of ironic since one of the claims to the Market is that you don't have to use it if you don't want to. Anyway, the apps still work just fine. Of course, with VZW's upcoming $30 for 2 GB/mth tiers (+$10/GB overages) for smartphone usage, it won't matter much longer if tethering works or not

Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19

Mine still works

Posting from a tethered Android.

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: Mine still works

said by Archivis:

Posting from a tethered Android.

My Sprint Nexus S 4G has tethering built-in to phone and it is not disabled. Sprint charges for tethering, but I don't pay for tethering and I have used it without being billed for it.
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xenophon

join:2007-09-17

Time to break the device from the carrier

It's time to buy smartphones like a computer, independent of the carrier.

We don't buy computers with an ISP attached. You buy a computer, do what you want with it (have admin/root access) and then connect to an ISP with a standard interface (wifi/ethernet/etc).

Carriers should have no control over the device just as the ISP does not control the behavior of your computer use. When you attach a data card from a carrier on computer, they don't control how you use the data and they certainly don't lock down admin/root on your computer.

For phones that are purchased for full price, the carrier should not have any say how it is used.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

Re: Time to break the device from the carrier

A vast majority of consumers in the US aren't willing to buy their mobile wireless devices at full price, so I don't see the idea of carrier detached devices catching on for a while....at least until they become more of a commodity like the traditional PC.

said by xenophon:

Carriers should have no control over the device just as the ISP does not control the behavior of your computer use. When you attach a data card from a carrier on computer, they don't control how you use the data and they certainly don't lock down admin/root on your computer.

I agree and I believe that's where the carriers are methodically moving to. More "open" usage along with caps and meters will ensure the carriers maintain control of usage (not hitting their top lines) while placating the "it's my device, I'll do what I want with it" consumers...except for the relative higher prices of the upcoming data plans.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO
As long as they are charging the ridiculous amount of money they charge for phones because they are "subsidized" they will continue to greatly limit their consumer base.

Remove the carrier subsidies and exclusive deals and watch the phone prices drop by the minute (unless of course you are Apple).
shaun

join:2004-06-28
Whittier, CA
TRUTH RIGHT HERE

davee

@verizon.net

Thunderbolt 4G test

VZW has given me free tethering for the last 2 months. I think they are probably gauging how much usage there really is. TBH, I dont use my laptop that much anymore because now I am a manager . I do turn on wifi, and that has caused my monthly dat to go from 1.5GB down to 500 MB last month. My cell phone bill is $110, so somehow I don't thing VZW is loosing money on me.

The tbolt is such a good computing device, it has removed the need for me to really need it.

I could get a tablet to do the rest (android of course), maybe later this year. That means tethering tho, so I will have to figure that out.

The other worry is all the cloud apps. If they start capping usage, it's going to get expensive. I have 22 months to figure that out tho

I went back and looked at my blackberry before the tbolt, and I was averaging 20 MB -- MB per month. Since the bberry is totally useless outside of phone/text/email, I can understand. VZW must love bberrrys because they are monster profitable.

swintec
Premium,VIP
join:2003-12-19
Alfred, ME
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·VoicePulse
·Sprint Mobile Br..
·RapidVPS

Weeiirdd....

Verizon says Google removed it from the market because of TOS issues, but Sprint has no issue giving it to there customers. Ain't that odd.
--
Usenet Block Accounts | Unlimited Accounts
xenophon

join:2007-09-17

Re: Weeiirdd....

Yeah, VZW is BSing as all of the tether apps show up in the Market from a Sprint phone. VZW asked to block it from VZW phones as Sprint phones can still see them. Can't blame Google.

swintec
Premium,VIP
join:2003-12-19
Alfred, ME
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·VoicePulse
·Sprint Mobile Br..
·RapidVPS

Re: Weeiirdd....

said by xenophon:

Yeah, VZW is BSing as all of the tether apps show up in the Market from a Sprint phone. VZW asked to block it from VZW phones as Sprint phones can still see them. Can't blame Google.

AT&T ditched it too.
--
Usenet Block Accounts | Unlimited Accounts

BHNtechXpert
BHN Staff
Premium,VIP
join:2006-02-16
Saint Petersburg, FL
kudos:148

And Verizon Lies...

The tether apps were available until a short while ago and then after a little cozy discussion between Verizon and Google the apps have blocked and the message displayed in the app market clearly states "THIS ITEM NOT AVAILABLE ON YOUR CARRIER".
--
"I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time."
~ Herbert Bayard Swope
zeddlar

join:2007-04-09
Jay, OK
Reviews:
·exede by ViaSat
·McDonald County ..

Google it

Google those apps and you will find you can get those same tethering apps online from google, you just won't find em in the market anymore.
--
HughesNet elite plan/.74 dish w/1watt trans. / 9000 modem / 3 computers on a linksy's wired network

BHNtechXpert
BHN Staff
Premium,VIP
join:2006-02-16
Saint Petersburg, FL
kudos:148

Re: Google it

Yea you can for a couple of them and finally the better of the non-root tethers did the same thing. At this point it's just the point of the whole thing and Verizon attempting to deflect attention away from who was responsible for the blocks which in fact was Verizon...not Google.
--
"I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time."
~ Herbert Bayard Swope

SavageJeep

@wisc.edu
»market.android.com/details?id=an···h_result

Before I login I can see it, be after I login:
" This app is incompatible with all of your devices. "

CompUser

join:2001-11-07
Ada, OH

Re: Google it

nm

axiomatic

join:2006-08-23
Tomball, TX

You cant stop it.

I hate to say it again but you cant stop a core networking function. Networks are made to be interconnected at the protocol level. Just because you remove/change the user interface, or block the app at the "store" level, doesn't change the fact that once you gain root access you can do whatever you like, because as I said, networks are meant to be interconnected. It's the nature of the beast.

Telcos need to stop wasting money on this as you can't plug this hole while not changing some of these core network functions.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

Re: You cant stop it.

said by axiomatic:

you can't plug this hole while not changing some of these core network functions.

Oh really? I'd say VZW's impending $30/mth for 2 GB plus $10/GB in overages will "stop" this tethering problem fairly quickly

axiomatic

join:2006-08-23
Tomball, TX

Re: You cant stop it.

Oh openbox9.... I will say this. You are at least as persistent as I am.

I call stalemate before it guts ugly again. I respect DSLR too much to get in to it with you again. You and I are diametrically opposed on this one.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

1 edit

Re: You cant stop it.

I'm not diametrically opposed to many things, especially this. I honestly didn't understand your previous argument regarding RFC and the IETF. I do agree with one of your points:
said by axiomatic:

once you gain root access you can do whatever you like

VZW and the other carriers know this. That's one reason why caps and overages and being implemented, hence my response to your post.

axiomatic

join:2006-08-23
Tomball, TX

Re: You cant stop it.

My point on RFC and IETF is that networks are meant to be interconnected at the specification level. Tethering is just two networks interconnecting like they are supposed to do by design.

VZW and AT&T are both working against networking specifications to stop tethering.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

Re: You cant stop it.

I still don't understand your point, but it doesn't matter since you can still tether to your heart's delight, you'll just pay for it in the form of overages or higher priced tiers.
Hasher

join:2000-06-19
Rocky River, OH

1 edit
The whole issue here is what you are saying .. Your phone has the capability to act as a router and thus allow other devices to connect to it in order to have access to the internet.
This is the same issue the cable co. and ISPs went thru when they tried to charge you for adding a home router in your home to allow other devices access. We do not pay any more for 1 or 10 devices attached to the internet at home so why should we have to from our wireless device acting as a router?

We are paying for data, which currently is unlimited. We should not have to pay to connect up another device that uses the same data we already paid for if we are using a piece of software that has nothing to do with VZW. Same issue as the VZW Navigator.. I do not use theirs so I do NOT PAY for navigation.

Now that they are instituting caps on data plans .. they should remove the tethering charge and just let people tether and if they go over their cap they get charged more. They will make more money this way anyway.

axiomatic

join:2006-08-23
Tomball, TX

Re: You cant stop it.

Thank you Hasher. You summarized my point far better than I could.

Networks just aren't designed to maximize profits with artificial limitations created by the guys in marketing. Networks are designed to interconnect together over any physical medium no matter what so none of us users have to worry about connecting them together and having a problem.
slckusr
Premium
join:2003-03-17
Greenville, SC
kudos:1

if google doesnt delete apps

Then where did all the one click root programs go. it takes 2 liars to make a team.

tightdog

@astound.net

Sprint android Market ok with thether apps

Verizon blocked the tethering apps on Verizonm phones, but on a Sprint andriod phone I can download the blocked app no problem from android market. So it is definitaly a problem/issue with verizon and not android and google as a whole.

FLATLINE

join:2007-02-27
Buffalo, NY

My Perception

Ahhhhh Verizon. Someone once told me that perception is reality. Well, I perceive Verizon is to be responsible so there ya go.

WebSALE

@spcsdns.net

Virgin Mobile, LG Optimus V, Amazon App Store, & Tethering

Apparently I've avoided the whole Verizon and AT&T tethering app block by using Virgin Mobile's unlimited data service on the LG Optimus V for $25/mo. Sometimes there are 3G drops and slow downs but it works fine for my usage pattern and the speeds are quite fast when downloading large podcasts. Even Hulu will stream well at 320/280p. Apparently Virgin Mobile uses the Sprint Network, but at $25/mo. I probably get the lowest tier of network availability. Not a problem for me if I don't have to worry about a stupid bandwidth cap and expensive overages.

I also sidestep the Google app store and use the Amazon app store to buy Easy Tether Pro app for $9.99. It works in Windows and my Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Peppermint machines. The app uses the USB debugging mode to avoid needing a root phone. I do have trouble getting the USB mode to connect in Linux, but after pulling down the android status bar and clicking on the "connect to USB" message the phone will eventually connect to the computer as a mass storage device. I don't really use Windows so I don't know if the USB connection behaves in the same manner. I do have apps stored on my SD card so maybe they are still running and preventing phone from immediately connecting in USB mode. Just a guess.

I would like to see if Verizon or AT&T will go after the Amazon app store to try and block the tethering apps there. Hopefully Amazon would give some push back since they aren't the phone OS provider. This is one great thing about Android. Apps can be installed from multiple sources and not just the "approved" app store. "Approved" is one degree of separation from BANNED!