Verizon Wireless said Tuesday that it will allow any compatible device or software to run on its wireless network as it heeds the industry call for more openness.
“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,” said Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam in a statement. “Verizon Wireless is not changing our successful retail model, but rather adding an additional retail option for customers looking for a different wireless experience.”
It’s a reversal for the cellphone giant, which is known to be particularly protective of its network, and an acknowledgment of the direction of the wireless industry. Google’s open-standards software, Android, already counts Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA as allies.
“Microsoft is very excited to see Verizon Wireless make such a bold move to satisfy the demands of wireless customers,” said Peter Knook, head of the company’s mobile communications business. Microsoft’s Windows Mobile is the most popular mobile operating system for U.S. smartphones.
Some consumer groups have criticized Apple’s iPhone, which only runs on the AT&T network, for locking out 3rd party software or the ability to use the device on T-Mobile’s compatible GSM network. The FCC has required a portion of 700MHz spectrum to allow outside devices and applications.
The company says it will publish the technical standards the developers will need, in early 2008. Any device that meets the minimum technical standard will be activated on the network. Devices will be tested and approved in a $20 million testing lab, which received an additional investment this year to gear up for the anticipated demand, says Unstrung.
Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s 2nd largest wireless network, after AT&T, serving 63.7 million customers.