"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," appears to be Verizon Wireless' new
motto as it today announced an impressive "open access" plan for its
network that will go into effect next year. Any application can run on
any device from any developer and will have full access to Verizon
spectrum, so long as it can properly connect to the network. Google,
can you hear us now?

In a conference call this morning, Verizon's top brass insisted that
the news had nothing to do with political pressure or with the upcoming
700MHz spectrum auction (which will require some winners to abide by
such open access rules). However, they also made clear that Verizon's
open solution will be in place in 2008, not in 2011 (when the new
700MHz spectrum owner could conceivably start bringing a new network

Here's how it will work: early next year, the company will publish the
technical standards needed to connect to the Verizon network. It will
also host a conference with device developers to learn more about their
needs and to help with any problems that arise. Verizon has also
dropped another $20 million into its certification lab, and any device
maker who wants to connect to Verizon's network will first need to be
certified for proper network connectivity procedures. Nothing else will
be checked.

All applications, operating systems, and runtime environments are
supported so long as the devices connect properly to Verizon's CDMA
network (they can make use of either the company's cellular and PCS
bandwidth). The fee for certification of devices will be "surprisingly
reasonable," we're told, and the program will be open to anyone. One
Verizon exec went so far as to say that if someone builds a device in
their basement on a breadboard, Verizon will test it and activate it.
Smaller players will definitely be able to get in on the action,
something that hasn't previously been possible.

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