from the openness-in-name-only dept
There was some news a few weeks ago saying that Verizon Wireless was blocking Google's mobile payment offering, Google Wallet, on its Galaxy Nexus phones, and that's prompted Stanford professor Barbara van Schewick to ask the FCC to investigate if Verizon Wireless is breaking the law.
Verizon’s conduct undermines the Commission’s general approach towards mobile Internet openness by dismantling the protections for one part of the spectrum on which the FCC’s “incremental” approach to regulation in this space is built. Without enforcement, the openness conditions are effectively moot. Verizon violated these conditions earlier this year when it blocked tethering applications. Now it is blocking Google Wallet. This emerging pattern of disregard for its license conditions challenges the FCC to follow through on its pledges in the Open Internet Order to enforce the openness conditions in the 700 MHz band and to monitor the mobile Internet space for abuses by licensees.While I agree that this is a bad move for consumers, I'm wondering if it really makes sense for the FCC to be involved here. The FCC has always been pretty weak in sanctioning telcos for doing anything wrong and I'm not sure much would really happen here either. The more effective thing is to watch what the market is already doing -- including quickly figuring out a way to hack Google Wallet back on to the phone. On top of that, this story reflects extremely poorly on Verizon Wireless and would make me question if I'd continue to use them (if I did today, which I don't). So while I agree it's a dumb move on VZW's part, I'm not sure it's dumb enough to reach the level that the FCC should be involved.