This morning Verizon Wireless broke the news that it will let its customers use the devices, applications, and software of their choice on its network. Wow.
This is how it is going to work:
In early 2008, the company will publish the technical standards the development community will need to design products to interface with the Verizon Wireless network. Any device that meets the minimum technical standard will be activated on the network. Devices will be tested and approved in a $20 million state-of-the-art testing lab which received an additional investment this year to gear up for the anticipated new demand. Any application the customer chooses will be allowed on these devices.
This new option goes beyond just a change in the design, delivery, purchase, and provisioning of wireless devices and applications.
Of course, customers will still be limited to phones based on CDMA technology. This means that any device that uses the Sprint network, for example, could be used on Verizon's network instead.
Verizon says it will not change its existing retail sales channels at all, and customers will still be able to go to Verizon Wireless stores and purchase phones and services just as they do now. It is simply offering customers who don't want to be limited to the current handset or application selection the opportunity to use the device that will make them happy. Thank goodness, says I. This will equate the freedom that GSM-based users have had for years and should level the playing field in that respect.
This also is Verizon finally owning up to the reality of what wireless networks will become: dumb pipes that are used simply to access data and the Internet.