Verizon Wireless is surprisingly embracing open networks.
The nations second largest cell phone carrier said Nov. 27 that customers will have the option of connecting hardware and software not sold by the company to its network. Verizon Wireless said the initiative will be available nationwide by the end of next year.
Large carriers have traditionally resisted the notion of open networks by requiring customers to use phones and software sold only by the company.
"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," Verizon Wireless President and CEO Lowell McAdam said in a statement.
McAdam said the company is not abandoning its closed retail model, which will still be available to customers, but rather is adding "an additional retail option for customers looking for a different wireless experience."
Early next year, Verizon Wireless plans to publish the technical standards for developers who wish to design products to connect to the companys network. According to company officials, any device or software that meets Verizon Wireless technical standards will be activated on the network.
After the company publishes the standards, Verizon Wireless will host a conference to explain the standards and seek input from the developer community.
The closed networks traditionally run by wireless giants such as Verizon and AT&T have been under fire from consumer advocacy groups, tech companies like Google and the Federal Communications Commission.
The FCC has already dedicated a prime slice of Januarys 700MHz spectrum auction to open network standards, where consumers will be able to connect any legal device or software to the network. Google is rumored to be interested in bidding for the spectrum.
In addition to its possible play for the spectrum, Google also unveiled Nov. 5 a complete mobile phone stack—known as "Android"—under an open-source license as an alternative to proprietary platforms from Microsoft and Symbian.
Read more here about Googles Android.
Built on top of the Linux 2.6 kernel, the Android SDK includes an operating system, libraries, a Web browser user interface and a set of phone applications. The Android platform also includes the Dalvik virtual machine to boost application performance, portability and security, addressing some of the primary concerns high-tech experts have with mobile software.
The stack was created under the aegis of the Open Handset Alliance, an alliance of technology and wireless carriers that includes among its 34 founding members Google, T-Mobile, eBay, Qualcomm and Motorola.
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