Verizon Reveals 'Open Access' Details

Verizon Wireless launched its Open Developer portal today to give interested device vendors the initial specifications they need to get gadgets certified to run on the operator's CDMA network later this year.

Verizon says it will start testing initial voice and data devices in mid-May. "The overall process is likely to be a four-week process," says Verizon Wireless CTO, Tony Melone.

Verizon broke with tradition last November and announced that it will open up its CDMA network to third party devices and applications in 2008. At Verizon's developers conference in New York City this morning, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s CEO Ivan Seidenberg explained that the operator felt it needed to open the network in order to "participate fully in the growth in the wireless industry." (See Verizon Tears Down the 'Walled Garden' .)

"Our goal is to make our network the on-ramp for next generation services," Seidenberg told the audience.

Verizon this morning laid out a parcel of standard CDMA features that vendors must conform to get on the Verizon network, as well as "supplemental requirements" that the company wants met before gadgets get its stamp of approval. These include phone location capabilities that can meet the E911 emergency standard, over-the-air activation capabilities, and support for short messaging service text messaging.

"Our aim is to secure our network and our customers," says CTO Melone.

Nonetheless, Verizon says that it doesn't intend for the testing process to be a grind. "It will not be difficult, not be lengthy, and not be costly," claims Tony Lewis, vice president of open development for Verizon Wireless.

Although Melone admitted that the operator doesn't yet know how busy the test lab will be. "We really don't know what to expect here, is it going to be one device a month or hundreds of them," he says, stressing the need for scalability.

This testing will lead to third-party devices being available to consumers later in 2008. Users will be able to activate their phones online or over the phone. The carrier says that there will be no contracts or early termination fees associated with the devices and consumers will get a variety of payment plan choices.

The open access move will also carry over to the operator's 4G wireless plans. Verizon reiterated today that it will start testing fourth generation Long-Term Evolution (LTE) wireless technology later this year. (See Verizon Goes LTE.) — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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