Verizon responds, and so do I

I just received a letter from Verizon’s VP and associate general counsel, William H. Johnson, to the acting head of the FCC Enforcement Bureau, Robert Ratcliffe, responding to my Nexus 7 complaint. I will respond below. First, Verizon’s stand:

In a letter to the Enforcement Bureau, Jeff Jarvis alleges that Verizon Wireless is violating its C Block obligations by declining to activate Mr. Jarvis’s Google Nexus 7 LTE tablet on its network. Verizon Wireless takes seriously its C Block obligations, and, as explained below, it is fully complying with them, including with respect to the device in question.

The Google Nexus 7 is a new tablet developed by Google. Google announced in July that this tablet will run on the Verizon Wireless network. The manufacturer of the Nexus 7 subsequently submitted the device for our certification process in August, and that process has proceeded apace. In fact, we expect final certification of the device will come shortly. Once the device is certified, we will work with Google to enable the device to be activated on our 4G LTE network within a matter of days.

Verizon Wireless’s certification process is fully consistent with the Commission’s C Block rules. Those rules require Verizon Wireless to allow customers to use their choice of devices, but they also recognize that this obligation only applies in the case of devices that comply with the provider’s published technical standards. See 47 C.F.R. § 27.16(b). The Commission recognized that providers may “use their own certification standards and processes to approve use of devices and applications on their networks so long as those standards are confined to reasonable network management,” and the Commission allowed providers flexibility in implementing these standards and processes.1 Verizon’s certification process for third-party devices like the Google Nexus 7 is a straightforward way to ensure that devices attached to the Verizon Wireless network do not harm the network or other users. Although Verizon Wireless uses one of the most rigorous testing protocols of any carrier, the process generally takes only between four and six weeks. Certification is done by third party labs approved by Verizon Wireless, and selected by the device manufacturer. Over the years, Verizon Wireless has certified hundreds of devices; information on the certification process is available to anyone at

Verizon is committed to ensuring our customers have the best overall experience when any device becomes available on the nation’s most reliable network. Please let us know if you have any further questions on this matter.

In a letter I will shortly send to the FCC, I will ask: What is the definition of “open”? What is the definition of the Block C requirement that allows “customers to use the devices and applications of their choice”?

The industry definitions of openness and consumer choice across GSM carriers all around the world is quite clear: I take a device to Germany, say, buy a SIM, put it in the device, and if the frequencies of the antennae match, then it will work. Full stop. This works because there is an open standard that governs the process, not a closed “certification” process.

The Nexus 7 clearly has met these open standards. It has been approved by the FCC. It works on the networks of AT&T, T-Mobile, and GSM carriers around the world — any one of whom has much, much more experience with GSM than Verizon. As I and others have demonstrated, the Nexus 7 *does* work on Verizon’s network.

That is not the issue. The issue is that Verizon refuses to give me the immediate opportunity — using a device of my choice on an open network — to receive a SIM and add it to my shared data plan. As I noted in my complaint, Verizon agents used this as an opportunity to try to sell me Verizon tablets. That is a consumer issue.

That is in direct contravention of the spirit and letter both of the Block C requirements and the FCC consent decree of July 2012 against Verizon demanding openness and consumer choice on the network.

I continue to ask the FCC to bring clarity to this matter and to assure that Verizon will operate an open network on which the customers — not Verizon — have the power of choice.

Note well that the Nexus 7 is just the first of many devices sure to come to market from all over the world. That development is what was to be encouraged by the clause of the Block C requirements we are discussing. That cannot bear Verizon’s continued interference.

: LATER: I received a letter from Verizon responding to my FCC complaint and I responded in turn in the post above.

  • foosion

    This is a fight you really show win. If nothing else, let’s hope you cause senior Verizon types to rant against you the way you rant against Verizon.

    How can a standard GSM device possibly harm a GSM network? However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the FCC let’s them have some process, so long as it’s reasonable and prompt (whatever those words may mean in practice).

    Good luck!

    • toddbdac

      I believe the timeframe is considered reasonable and prompt as long as you use the word “only”, as:

      “Although Verizon Wireless uses one of the most rigorous testing protocols of any carrier, the process generally takes only between four and six weeks.”

      • Michael Graziano

        I’d be all cool with that, except we all know that pre-market versions of final devices are made available to carriers for testing. They likely had the device for at least 4-6 weeks before it came to market.

        • Neil Nimkar

          Verizon says they got it in August. You suggesting they are lying?

        • Nicholas Kathrein

          Why not state the exact date like August 1st. Makes me think they don’t want anyone to know they’ve had it already 6 weeks or more.

        • Neil Nimkar

          1.) Verizon should drop everything and test when a device is delivered I am sure it is in a queue.
          2.) Even if it was August 1st.. still isnt 8 weeks.

          All I am saying.. don’t make assumptions and jump to conclusions.

        • Nicholas Kathrein

          It’s one week short of 8 weeks. Now lets not forget they only have to test 2 bands of LTE and they don’t have any testing to do for CDMA. Really. 8 weeks needed. Come on.

  • Grendel Khan

    I wish I was this eloquent in my arguments!

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  • Das Schtaunkhauser

    I wouldn’t be so hard on Verizon. They likely have to prepare their NSA interface for the new device before they allow it on their network. Free and Open are marketing terms these days.

  • CloseReader

    Apparently neither VZ Legal, nor VZ PR (as noted in prior threads), have ever bothered to try to look at their opennetwork site.
    “Oops! Google Chrome could not find
    Did you mean: opennetwork.­verizonwireless.­com””

  • Neil Nimkar

    I don’t know the answer to this, but does the FCC actually make sure the device meets all the specifications of the LTE frequency in question or do they have different tests that just make sure it won’t blow up in your hand? What about devices that are not sold in the US and not tested by the FCC? Should Verizon be forced to accept these devices even though they don’t know if the device is harmful to their network and users? Just asking questions to make sure all sides are taken into account.

    • mjsalinger

      Verizon and Sprint are really the only carriers that do this though. AT&T allows devices from all over the world to come in and use a SIM card, as does T-Mobile, and every other carrier globally, as long as those devices are GSM and/or LTE compatible and utilize the same frequencies that the carrier offers. So why is it that only Verizon (and Sprint) has to make sure that a device isn’t harmful to their network? This made a little more sense with CDMA, as that standard is quite different than GSM, but LTE is the natural successor to GSM, as it is an international standard. So why should Verizon play by different rules?

      • Neil Nimkar

        The only rules in question are the stipulations of the C block. The rest are policies that companies make for themselves and all companies are free to make their own policies. The C block stipulation says Verizon needs to allow devices on their network UNLESS they are harmful. So the question remains, if Verizon shouldn’t do their own testing.. who is to say that any given device is not harmful?

        • mjsalinger

          No, it says they must it needs to allow *all* devices
          (1) Insofar as such use would not be compliant with published technical standards reasonably necessary for the management or protection of the licensee’s network

          Not their own standards, but published technical standards. The Nexus 7 has to be certified by the FCC to run on LTE bands, so that point is moot. The FCC certifies that a device works on specific bands. So why should Verizon need to re-certify at that point?

        • Neil Nimkar

          If you look at the original question, I was asking just that. Does the FCC test to make sure the device is compliant. If the answer is yes, then I agree Verizon does not need additional testing. I just didn’t know if that was the case.

        • mjsalinger

          Yes, they do.

    • Michael Graziano

      In order for a device containing a radio transmitter to be marketed in the United States the manufacturer must ensure that it conforms to FCC requirements (there are FCC required tests that must be performed – passing the tests means you can sell your device, and put the FCC certification logo and FCC ID on it)

      As the device is being sold it meets the FCC’s requirements – Verizon should not be permitted to impose additional restrictions: If a device meets the regulatory requirements and conforms to the applicable standards they MUST allow it on their (C Block) network.

      • Neil Nimkar

        That doesn’t answer the question. The Block C requirements do not say meet FCC standards. They say they must be “compliant with published technical standards reasonably necessary for the management or protection of the licensee’s network”. I want to know if the FCC requirements meet those standards. Have not heard they have yet (they very well might, I just dont know and no one else is saying).

  • I find myself starting to wonder if Verizon has ever heard the Dell Hell story…

  • Yancy Eaton

    In all honesty, you’re coming off as whiny. Use the T-Mobile simfor a month and switch to Verizon when the approval process is finished. You’re acting like this is life or death. This is all very “teenagerish.”

    • Das Schtaunkhauser

      Totally agree. Little things like this and yellow armbands don’t hurt anyone. Its not an important issue and Jeff just needs to relax. As Americans, we need to focus our energy on more important things. Because, America.

    • The point is not him getting his device immediately connected, by whatever means necessary. The point is that Verizon appears to be in violation of the FCC’s rules that they agreed to when they bid for the spectrum in the first place – rules which directly benefit consumers as a whole. It’s important insofar as making sure carriers obey the rules, instead of blatantly ignoring them and getting away with it.

      • Thank you, Christiaan. Yes, Yancy, this is a matter of principle, of protecting the openness of the net. Just shrugging and moving on, I would say, is what’s “teenagerish.”

  • Michael Graziano

    In addition to your FCC complaint you may wish to file one with the FTC as well – Verizon’s tactics (in particular trying to use this issue as an opportunity to sell you one of their devices) strike me as something the FTC would be interested in…

    • Edward Smith

      On This Week in Google Jeff made an off hand comment about Verizon Wireless acting like old Ma Bell.
      Got me thinking that VZW is displaying all the signs of a monopolistic enterprise; perhaps they need to be broken up.

  • WSS

    The “Certification Process” is code for a year of discussions with the manufacturer about money, what features Verizon wants disabled, what crapware to add, etc…

  • If LTE devices designed to work with VZW’s network are built using a published specification, what possible testing is necessary? Either the device works and is in compliance with the spec, in which case it connects to the network – or it’s not, and doesn’t. Anything beyond that means they’re digging into the software running on top of the OS, which is again in violation of Block C rules. I don’t think that letter provides any clarification or justification for their certification process.

  • Lee Avery

    There could be a rational technical explanation for the Verizon certification process; a non-Standards Compliant implementation of LTE on their network. Verizon aren’t known for their technical expertise in this area, and if they decided to create an LTE network that wasn’t fully standards compliant or was an incomplete implementation then all devices would have to be tested to ensure that they didn’t bring down the network.

    Yes, devices would work (as Jeff has proved by swapping SIMs) but the impact on the back end LTE service could be disastrous if the Verizon network configuration is questionable.

    In this scenario Verizon would want to certify each device would work with their implementation of the LTE standard not to validate the device but to evaluate the impact on their network. Just because a device works on the network doesn’t mean that it is compatible with the network, it’s just not incompatible.

    This wouldn’t be the first time a company has implemented a standard in such a way as to be incompatible with certain devices, ask anyone with a wireless router that doesn’t connect to Apple devices properly.

    A non-Standards Compliant LTE network would also explain why Jeff is being given the runaround, there is no way that Verizon would admit that they have a flakey implementation of a global standard and a ‘certification’ process is an easy smokescreen.

    It could be a certification but not of the device, of the network itself.

  • Satadru Pramanik

    Verizon is still blocking Google Wallet Tap & Pay. Surely this violates the same FCC restrictions too? (Google now automatically disables Tap & Pay when people download Google Wallet on a Verizon device to at least provide some functionality.) Google’s site clearly shows that no Verizon devices are listed as allowed:

    • This was actually corrected in the latest Google Wallet version that was released this week. However, I completely agree that their policy on Google Wallet up until a few days ago was also a blatant violation of the FCC rules.

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  • Evan Adams

    Developed by google.

    “”Google Nexus 7 is a new tablet developed by

    Certification by manufacturer.

    “Certification is done
    by third party labs approved by Verizon Wireless, and selected by the device

    Nexus 7 is made by Asus.

    So perhaps this is Asus’ fault for not getting on this fast

    The nexus 5 will be made by LG.

    LG makes the LG G2.

    LG G2 is already on Verizon.


  • Evan Adams

    any update?

    • Nada

      • All true: not trivial when done deeply. But I say that newspapers don’t even do it shallowly. Again: My newspaper doesn’t know where I live. If it did, it would not give me the exact same product it gives everyone else. It would at least prioritize news around me.

  • Evan Adams

    And today Verizon releases a 7″ LTE tablet. I guess it must have been into the Verizon “process” first…