Verizon Wireless: Open In Name Only?

from the this-is-not-the-'open'-you-were-thinking-of dept

Verizon Wireless got plenty of attention a few months back for announcing that it would be opening its network. This was a bit of a surprise, as Verizon Wireless has been among the most closed when it came to allowing anyone to do anything on its network. Of course, there were few details in the announcement. Now, the company has revealed a bit more about its "open" plans and they're incredibly underwhelming. In fact, you can almost pinpoint the problems based on the the key points Verizon Wireless chose to highlight.

First off, in order to get on the network you'll first have to get your device "certified" by Verizon Wireless. While the company insists that "the certification process won't be lengthy, costly or complicated," most people seem to think that it may be all three. It's going to take 4 to 8 weeks to get your device approved, and the expectation is that access will involve per-byte fees. It also means that if you want to use Verizon's new "open" network you have to spend all the time and effort to build a device, and then wait, hope and pray that Verizon "certifies it." Or, you can just ignore Verizon's network altogether and build a GSM-based device and pop in a SIM card and you're ready to go. So, Verizon's "open" network seems a lot more closed, annoying and expensive than the GSM networks that are more widely available.
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Filed Under: cdma, certification, open network
Companies: verizon wireless


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  1. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 20 Mar 2008 @ 11:30am

    I Call It Progress

    I don't agree with Mike on this one. Sure, the VZW process still requires network certification - but we knew that was going to be the case from their original announcement. Yesterday's meeting was just a presentation of the more developed plan for how VZW will become more open. We shouldn't have expected any surprises.

    And regardless of the fact that it isn't fully open, it still is a great deal more open that it has been in the past, and I call that significant progress. Yes, GSM is more open simply by virtue of the fact that the account info is all stored on the SIM, and the SIM can be slipped into any device you choose.

    VZW's openness, to be sure, is mainly the response to competitive pressure from the other carriers (mainly Sprint) that are proposing that their 4G networks will enable any device with an embedded radio. Sprint already proved their intentions with the wireless service bundled in the Amazon Kindle.

    As mobile phone penetration approaches saturation, the way to continue subscription growth is to start selling wireless subscriptions not just to people, but to their cars, vending machines, sensors, laptops, cameras, etc.

    But Mike, you're wrong about the "relative ease" of launching a GSM solution. There are also certification standards for GSM devices (see http://kiica-sv.com/printable_view.php?id=72).

    And the FCC needs to certify and authorize the use of any cellular radio product for the USA, and believe it or not, so does the FDA (see the bottom of this page http://www.fda.gov/cellphones/).

    So it's not like you and I are going to whip up a GSM device in our garage, and start selling it on the web, and people will just slip in their T-Mo SIMs, and we're in business. You need to go through testing and compliance whether you are offering a CDMA device for VZW's "open" network, or one of the more open GSM networks.

    And lastly, for all of you prior commenters who are re-igniting the CDMA/GSM battle. They're both very good in different ways. CDMA is a better technology that is more spectrally efficient, does not drop calls on handoff like GSM, and has been universally accepted as the ONLY third generation cellular technology -- um did you notice the 3G version of GSM is called "W-CDMA"? But GSM is more globally adopted, enables much easier roaming, has SMS by default, offers data roaming, has + code dialing for international calls, and has harmonized frequencies across most of the world. So both have their advantages, and each user needs to choose what works for them.

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