A new era in open wireless networks is dawning in the U.S., and an announcement by Verizon Wireless this week about the upcoming release of its "Any Device, Any App" technical specification is one of the milestones.
The carrier said version 1.0 of its specs will be released at its Open Development Device Conference beginning March 19 in New York City. It said the conference will "focus on how traditional device and consumer electronics companies and entrepreneurs new to the wireless ecosystem can bring new wireless devices to the marketplace" under its Open Development Initiative.
Refining the Specs
Verizon Vice President Anthony A. Lewis said the specs will provide a "road map for wireless-device visionaries and tinkerers, as well as existing device makers," to create products not offered by Verizon but which can run on its network.
He said input from developers at the conference could be used to refine the specs, and 1.0 will be the foundation for device certification by Verizon. A new "network-only" option will be available this year so non-Verizon wireless devices and applications can run on its service.
The open network represents a "new era" for consumers and businesses, said Chris Hazelton, an analyst with industry research firm IDC.
He noted that, with the release of the open-source mobile platform Android from the Open Handset Alliance last year, and the lobbying effort that resulted in open-network provisions for some of the 700-MHz bandwidth currently being auctioned by the Federal Communications Commission, the major carriers in the U.S. are embracing openness.
Hazelton pointed out that, although Verizon will issue the specs and provide certification, there will be no support. For the consumer, this means there could be an explosion of choices in third-party applications, services and devices -- and possibly independent vendors for support.
Hazelton said the consumer smartphone market in the U.S. has been underserved compared to other countries, but the open trend could change that. It could also change both the opportunities and challenges that IT departments face.
Hazelton said that, on the one hand, there could be an explosion of choices and customization for businesses. "You'll see the increased ability to run a variety of applications that were built in-house," he said, as well as a much larger menu of offerings from third-party developers.
On the other hand, he pointed out, the opening of Verizon and other carriers could also mean that IT departments "will need greater and greater mobile software knowledge" for support as well as any customization.