Where Is Verizon's Open Access?

Verizon Wireless 's big talk about going "open access" in 2008 has dropped to radio silence just around the time that the first CDMA devices for the project might have been expected to be announced. So what's happening with the big "V" and open access right now?

In November 2007 Verizon Wireless announced plans to start to open up its CDMA network to users, devices, and applications in the second half of this year. There has been no sign of "open access" devices from third-party vendors so far this summer and the second-ranked U.S. cellular operator itself isn't talking.

The Basking Ridge, N.J.-based operator made a big splash last year by announcing its "open access" plan. (See Verizon Tears Down the 'Walled Garden' .) The basic idea being that users will be able to use any CDMA device that passes Verizon's testing and download applications they want off the network. (See 'Open Access' Gets Closer.) In February 2008, Verizon launched a developer portal to kick-start the move to open access. Vendors pay a fee to Verizon labs for testing their devices, but the operator said that it would not be a difficult, costly, or time-consuming process.

Verizon said back then that it intended to start testing initial voice and data devices in mid-May. "The overall process is likely to be a four-week process," suggested Verizon Wireless CTO, Tony Melone. (See Verizon Reveals 'Open Access' Details.)

So where are the "open access" phones for Verizon's CDMA network? Unstrung called and emailed several of the company's spokespeople, but none have yet replied to update us on the status of the project.

Analysts suspect that that there may be a couple of reasons why Verizon isn't so vocal about open access right now.

"They may be waiting for some major announcement to come along before making a splash with this – like maybe a [Google] Android device they want to support," postulates Jack Gold at J.Gold Associates.

"Possibly an Android phone," agrees Carmi Levy at AR Communications Inc. . "They'd want to announce this with something big... although they need to announce something soon." T-Mobile US Inc. is expected to unveil the first Android phone -- the High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) Dream -- in November of this year. Verizon is planning to release rival LiMo Foundation Linux handsets in 2009, but has never ruled out an Android phone of its own. (See Verizon's LiMo Bean 'Surprise'.) There could, however, be another reason for the open access quiet period from Verizon. Suggests Levy: The testing process for handsets might be taking longer than initially anticipated.

"These are complex issues with a lot of moving parts," the analyst says.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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