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Verizon Goes 'Open'

Verizon Wireless plans to become the first U.S. carrier to open up its cellular network to other devices and applications "by the end of 2008."

The number two cellular provider in the U.S. this morning made the surprise move to open up its CDMA network after opposing similar requirements from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and others for the wireless broadband 700MHz spectrum due to be auctioned in January 2008. The Verizon plans could potentially allow users to get on its network with many new and existing CDMA-enabled devices. The opening up of its network is a dramatic turnabout on Verizon's previous position. (See Now Wait for Wireless Broadband .)

In early 2008, the company says it will publish the technical standards the developers 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 testing lab, which received an additional investment this year to gear up for the anticipated demand. Any application the customer chooses will be allowed on these devices.

Verizon hasn't yet revealed what the "minimum technical standard" for phones will be. No matter how much it opens up its network, the new Verizon plans won't allow AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and T-Mobile US Inc. subscribers to jump networks, simply because these operators use GSM-based technology for their phones rather than CDMA. Sprint users, however, could potentially move onto the Verizon network with their CDMA phones. Whether Verizon will actually allow this will become clearer after the operator's press conference this morning.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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