A US federal court has ruled that a prepaid wireless hotspot for Verizon wireless customers is illegal because it violates net neutrality rules.
The court found that Verizon’s Wi-fi hotspot is illegal in violation of Section 7 of the Communications Act, which prohibits blocking of access to “information or programs, services or networks,” and Section 21 of the Telecommunications Act, that prohibits unfair discrimination against wireless customers.
Net neutrality rules require that internet service providers (ISPs) provide equal access to all internet users.
Section 7 says ISPs must treat all internet traffic equally.
The FCC is currently weighing its position on the issue, but Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T have argued that it is an important regulation for consumers and their access to the internet.
Verizon argued that its Wi-fetching service was not a net neutrality regulation, and that the court’s ruling should not be interpreted as a ban on the service.
The wireless hotspots were sold as “unlimited” hotspots, which means that if a customer has more than one device on their wireless network, they can share data.
The Supreme Court found that it would be unreasonable to restrict the use of this service because Verizon could offer unlimited wireless plans to its subscribers.
The court said that unlimited plans are a different matter.
The judge said that while unlimited plans were not a violation of net neutrality, the carriers had a duty to protect consumers from discriminatory practices.
Verizon argued that the unlimited plans should not have been permitted.
The ruling comes a day after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that he was appointing a new commissioner to head the FCC, replacing Michael O’Rielly, who stepped down after Pai took office in January.