November 28, 2007
Verizon Annouces Open Access Coming to Its Wireless Network
Verizon has announced that it is opening its network (somewhat) to devices other than cell phones tied to the company. That flies in the face of the traditional wireless business model where a carrier subsidizes a phone in return for a long-term contract and control over content. The devices will have to meet technical standards to work on the Verizon network, but the prospect of consumers using most any devices and software to access the wireless Internet is appealing on any number of levels. Verizon customers get to view or access content of their choice, and Verizon gets to charge them by the bitload, so to speak. That's something Verizon can't do with home-based ISP subscriptions. Verizon makes X number of dollars from subscribers whether they use the Internet a little or a lot. Wireless is a whole different story.
Google has been pushing open access on spectrum to be sold in the upcoming auction. The FCC agreed on that condition much to the dismay of AT&T and Verizon, the latter having filed and then dropping a suit against the auction rules. Google is expected to bid for a piece of spectrum, but who knows how this move will affect their plans. Open access is in Google's interest because it places its services (and ads, don't forget the ads) on multiple wireless devices without anything being filtered or blocked. Don't expect to see AT&T make a similar move until they see Verizon making boatloads of money out of the move. And as to the hostility between Google and the telecoms, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdams was quoted in the New York Times as saying “It’s very common and popular in the press to view Google and Verizon at each other’s throats. We have far more in common with Google in meeting demands of consumers than in conflict.”
Some details, of course, have yet to be worked out, such as pricing and the technical standards. There's also the issue of CDMA technology as the basis of the Verizon network compared to GSM for AT&T and other carriers. Still, the move is in the right direction. Consumers likely won't care as long as their devices work for what they want them to do. It should work out for everyone provided access doesn't get too pricey. But who knows? Competition has a funny way of working that out. Remember when cell phones were the size of bricks and nationwide calling plans were in the hundreds of dollars?
November 28, 2007 | Permalink
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