NEW YORK (
MainStreet) -- You may not think of the
Federal Communications Commission as being friendlier to your cell phone bill than they are to the cell phone lobby in Washington, but the FCC provided mobile users with a minor victory this week, ruling on Tuesday that
(VZ - Get Report) Wireless could
The wireless carrier offers a $20-a-month mobile hotspot service that allows subscribers with Android phones to access the cellular data network with other devices like tablets and laptops -- essentially turning the phone into a wireless internet hotspot. But a number of third parties offer the same service at a much lower cost, allowing customers to pay a one-time fee for a "tethering" app rather than pay an extra $20 a month on their phone bill.
Unfortunately, Verizon and other wireless carriers have long blocked these tethering apps from app stores, and prevented customers that it detects using unauthorized tethering apps without paying the monthly hotspot charge.
Tuesday's ruling by the FCC does away with those restrictions, ordering that Verizon no longer make Google (GOOG - Get Report) keep tethering apps off the Google Play store. It also can't force users to sign up for a mobile hotspot plan if it detects them using tethering apps.It should be noted, though, that the ruling is limited in scope in a number of ways. (There's always a catch when it comes to consumers winning a battle for a change, isn't there?) For starters, the ruling applies only to Verizon. The FCC ruling came about due to a complaint by advocacy group Free Press,