Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Verizon Wireless Opening its Network...

The New York Times is reporting that sometime next year Verizon Wireless will be opening its network to "any apps, any device". Why the sudden shift in strategy and what will it mean for the rest of us?

For starters, one need not look that hard to see the direct influence that the iPhone is having on the telecom industry. It's not the iPhone device itself which has proven to have so large an effect, but rather the exclusive deal brokered between Apple and AT&T. If customers want an iPhone, they must switch their cell phone service to AT&T.

What's increasingly fascinating is that for all of the other cell phone carriers left out in the dark as a result of this exclusive arrangement, they are not looking to emulate the same type of deals for themselves. Adopting an entirely opposite strategy, firms such as Google (looking to enter the cell phone market next year) and now Verizon Wireless are supporting a more open approach, relating to both open standards and open networks.

For consumers, the result of this movement towards openness will be a greater choice among products and services, more innovation leading to better features, and (hopefully) lower prices stemming from increased competition.

Verizon's move towards opening its network is certainly a welcome step in the right direction, and other carriers like Sprint or T-Mobile would be wise to follow suit. As for Apple and AT&T, talk about the law of unintended consequences.


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