Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Verizon's Move Called an Opening for Industry

Verizon Wireless gave a boost to the whole U.S. mobile data industry with its plan to open up its network to third-party devices and applications, according to industry observers.

The nation's second-largest carrier, a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group, said Tuesday it will allow devices and software that it doesn't sell to work on its network nationwide by the end of next year. Verizon will also continue its traditional business of selling phones and offering a controlled "deck" of applications and services.

The move seems to preface a Verizon bid for valuable, long-range 700MHz radio spectrum in an auction set for early next year, IDC analyst Shiv Bakhshi said. The rules for that auction require part of the spectrum to be used for an open network. In that sense, Verizon was probably pushed into it by Google's drive for open-network rules and its Android open mobile software platform. "It's obviously a reaction to Google's threat," Bakhshi said.

But he believes Verizon's initiative could have wide-ranging effects and, in turn, lead other carriers to open up.

"This suddenly allows a lot of manufacturers of non-cellular devices to seriously consider Verizon as a network option," Bakhshi said. Those could range from Internet tablets like the Nokia N810 to in-car systems that send data about a vehicle's condition to the manufacturer, he said. Subscribers will also get a lot more applications to choose from on those devices, easing one problem that has impeded the growth of mobile data, Bakhshi added.


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