The No. 1 wireless carrier agreed to make the payment, and to relax its restrictions on tethering, as part of a consent decree announced today by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. The regulatory agency found that Verizon Wireless went over the line when it persuaded Google to disable tethering applications in its Google Play Store. That meant the apps would not work when customers tried to feed Internet service from their Verizon 4G LTE wireless phones to other devices, including laptops and tablets. Verizon wants customers to pay extra for its tethering service, Mobile Broadband Connect, saying that customers use more data when they connect phones with other devices. But the FCC says that the restriction violated a requirement that applies to a swath of spectrum the company uses: It stipulates that licensees “shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice.” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says the consent decree shows that “compliance with FCC obligations is not optional.” He adds that the agreement “will not only protect consumer choice, but defend certainty for innovators to continue to deliver new services and apps without fear of being blocked.”

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