As part of a consent decree announced on Tuesday, Verizon Wireless has agreed to pay $1.25 million to the U.S. Treasury to terminate an FCC investigation into allegations that Verizon had sought to block access to certain Google mobile applications that permit users to tether devices to the Verizon network free of charge. Tethering involves the use of a wireless subscriber’s smart phone to provide Internet access to other Wi-Fi-enabled devices such as tablets and laptop PCs. Prior to the debut of the Verizon “Share Everything” plan in June, smart phone customers on tiered data plans had been charged a monthly fee of $20 to tether devices to the Verizon network. (The Share Everything plan, which offers buckets of data to be shared among all of a customer’s devices, allows subscribers to tether devices for free.) Under the terms of licenses that were purchased by Verizon as part of the FCC’s auction of advanced wireless service spectrum in 2008, Verizon may not prevent subscribers from using software and applications of their choice that do not harm or otherwise impede the operation of the Verizon network. However, during a ten-month probe conducted last year, FCC investigators found that Verizon had pressured Google into removing eleven applications from the Android store that enabled subscribers to use their Verizon smart phones as modems for additional wireless devices without paying the $20 Verizon tethering charge. Tuesday’s consent decree does not include an admission of wrongdoing by Verizon, which explained in a press statement that the settlement “puts behind us concerns related to an employee’s communications with an app store operator about tethering applications, and allows us to focus on serving our customers.” Asserting, “the massive innovation and investment fueled by the Internet have been driven by consumer choice in both devices and applications,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told reporters that the settlement “will not only protect consumer choice, but will defend certainty for innovators to continue to deliver new services and apps without fear of being blocked.” A spokesman for public interest group Free Press agreed, applauding the settlement as “an important victory for consumers” which “sends a clear signal . . . that any practices which block or restrict consumers’ access to the Internet won’t be ignored in Washington.”