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Pros and Cons Of "Open" Verizon

  • GigaOm, Wednesday, November 28, 2007 11 AM

Perhaps the most surprising news this week is the decision by Verizon Wireless--one of the old-guard cellular carriers--to open its network and platform to third-party handset makers and software developers. From a pessimist's perspective, Verizon decided to do this because it doesn't want to make open network concessions at the upcoming 700 MHz FCC auction. Opening up now means the company would be able to say "we're already open," even though third parties would be forced to use the telecom's proprietary software development kit to create and run programs on its CDMA-based network.

Other potential downers: the CDMA-based network itself. Just about everyone else in the wireless industry runs on GSM technology, a more "open" path because CDMA technology is a monopoly run by tech giant Qualcomm. Verizon also didn't mention how much network access would cost.

The good news for consumers and handset makers is that phones running on Verizon's network would no longer need the company's Wi-Fi approval, freeing the mobile Web on Verizon phones. It also means that Verizon customers can buy any phone that runs on its network-even an iPhone, if Apple decides to make the device CDMA-compatible. For budget consumers, $25 phones from China could also theoretically make their way to the U.S. market.

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