Awhile back I filed an FCC complaint against Verizon for their new/recent policy to block prepaid 4G LTE devices from postpay accounts (without paying a new fee first).
Initially, Verizon just responded to my complaint stating that the new policy was consistent with FCC regulations. Obviously, this was an incomplete answer.
Today I’m happy to confirm the FCC seems to agree, and has asked (erm, required) Verizon to clarify why it feels the policy change is not a C-Block CFR violation… which it pretty clearly seems to be, since Verizon contractually agreed to allow any LTE Verizon device to work with any existing plan, automatically.
That rule is actually why Verizon rolled out plan pricing based on device type, since that was the only way for Verizon to charge more for a hotspot, than say, a smartphone. The same rule allows you to insert a smartphone (unlimited data) SIM into a Verizon tablet or hotspot – without fear of penalty.
Verizon has two choices, they can end the practice in response to my complaint. Or, they can provide a basis that will probably route up to an FCC ruling on if the policy is consistent or not. Based on past FCC rulings in regard to Verizon C-Block auctions, that is something I doubt they will win.
Verizon knew what it was getting into, when it agreed to license the coveted 700 MHz LTE Band 13 spectrum (the C-Block). The FCC ran the auction, fueled by requests from Google and advocates all the way on down to me, to require certain things. All devices would have to be treated equal, SIM swaps would not invoke a plan change, and that tethering would be permitted. Also they were required to sell all their phones as SIM/subsidy-unlocked. Verizon placed bids knowing all of this. They have since been fined over a million bucks for failing to abide by it.
Hopefully Verizon will respond to the FCC that it is ending the (new/recent) practice of charging for using LTE prepaid devices on postpay accounts… but I doubt it. In the net neutrality era, device neutrality is just as important as service neutrality.