Verizon's Open Network: What's The Catch? - InformationWeek

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Government // Enterprise Architecture
Commentary
11/27/2007
04:11 PM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Verizon's Open Network: What's The Catch?

With all the buzz about Verizon promising to open its wireless network to third-party devices in 2008, I find myself being strongly skeptical. This could turn out to be an open network in nothing but name.

With all the buzz about Verizon promising to open its wireless network to third-party devices in 2008, I find myself being strongly skeptical. This could turn out to be an open network in nothing but name.

I'm not convinced Verizon is doing this to be anyone's friend. It wants paying customers, the same as any other network provider. Yes, it's going to publish its tech standards, and that's great -- but it still holds the keys to the kingdom, in the form of requiring testing for any devices that want to get on its network.

To my mind this isn't the same as, say, using any old network switch in your in-home LAN, or using a generic DOCSIS 1.1 or 2.0 cable modem for your broadband connection. The standards for such things aren't controlled by any one company -- well, to be exact, they're controlled by steering committees that various companies sit on, but you get my point.

In Verizon's case, its "standards" are set and controlled entirely by Verizon. For all we know, it could make the standards so artificially narrow that few people would want to bother putting their devices on Verizon's network anyway. There's also no word about what, if any, additional fees one would have to pay to get your own device set up on the network.

The applications, though, I have a sliver of hope about.  Even if for whatever reason you couldn't bring your own device to the party, it would be nice to fire up the wireless application of my choice on said handset -- or, better yet, devise one of my own if I was so inclined.  But, again, such apps might not amount to much if they were constrained by onerous per-message or data-transfer charges -- and there's no sign Verizon's doing away with those anytime soon.  Those are some of the real problems with wireless in this country, not just whether or not you can bring your own device to the table.

So, as encouraging as this announcement could be, I'm taking it with a whole shaker of salt. I'll believe the freedom when I can see it, and use it, for myself.

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