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VZ Wirless to Open its Network in 2008; What's Next?

vz-wireless.jpgAT&T may not be the wireless network that gives customers the most options once VZ Wireless opens its network to any apps and devices that meet the company's "minimal technical standards" in 2008. This should include any CDMA device or application -- which disqualifies the iPhone, but may spur competition for the product. Verizon Wireless president and CEO Lowell McAdam said in a prepared statement:

"This is a transformation point in the 20-year history of mass market wireless devices--one which we believe will set the table for the next level of innovation and growth. Verizon Wireless is not changing our successful retail model, but rather adding an additional retail option for customers looking for a different wireless experience."
Since the company vehemently opposed open access mandates in the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction, this comes as a huge surprise. But Verizon isn't merely accepting the auction's terms and positioning itself for a successful bid. As TechCrunch noted, the move makes strategic sense:
When Google was trying to gear up support for its open-source mobile operating system Android, Verizon was one of the companies Google was rumored to be talking with, but did not end up being part of the Open Handset Alliance (which included T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel). Verizon may still join the Open Handset Alliance in its own sweet time, but this move suggests that it would rather compete by trying to attract mobile developers to its own network. Verizon is not embracing an open-source approach...but it will give mobile developers access to its vast network and 64 million subscribers.
Cellular networks may never be completely open considering the FCC's regulatory control, and the fact that "open" is limited by varying network standards (CDMA vs. GSM). But McAdam hit the nail on the head; this is indeed the herald of an industry transformation.

(VZ Wireless image courtesy of Maulleigh, cc 2.0)

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