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Verizon Wireless to Open Its Walled Garden

BIZ BriefsVerizon Wireless in Basking Ridge says by the end of next year any wireless device and software will run on its network, making it the first major wireless provider to open its gates. “This is a substantial change to a business model that has been in place since the 1970s,” says Robert Rosenberg, president of The Insight Research Corp., a telecom market research firm in Boonton.

Rosenberg says the announcement puts Verizon Wireless in stride with the growing push to open up the so-called walled gardens that limit customers to only use phones and applications sold by a service provider. In February, software developer Skype Technologies in Luxembourg asked the Federal Communications Commission to require service providers to open their networks to any software and hardware. Skype’s software allows computer users to place calls for free to other Skype users as well as wireless phones.

Verizon Wireless will publish technical standards in early 2008 and any phone meeting them will work on the carrier’s network. Rosenberg believes other major wireless providers will follow suit to remain competitive. “Verizon made the first move. AT&T will probably step up,” he says, along with others such as T-Mobile and Sprint.

In a separate move, Verizon Wireless said it will build a new high-speed network to enable cell-phone users to download videos and connect to the Internet more rapidly. Verizon plans to begin testing the technology, which AT&T also is adopting, in the new year.

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