Verizon makes about face on position regarding open network

Big headlines today as Verizon announced its intent to open its network by the end of 2008. This is clearly a 180 degree change from Verizon’s previous position whereby it strongly advocated against open networks in filings before the FCC. Currently, customers must use phones and applications and other software that only Verizon Wireless provides for its network.

See their press release at:

Verizon Wireless to Introduce ‘Any Apps, Any Device’ Option For Customers In 2008

Critics might suggest that Verizon’s announcement is opportunistic and merely a tactic to win favor at the FCC or scare rivals from bidding in the upcoming 700 MHz auction. Others might suggest that Verizon is just late to recognizing the pent up demand in the market for open networks and that serving as gatekeeper will only harm their interests in the long term.

Regardless of the motivation factor for the about face, if the announcement is sincere, then we’re glad to see that Verizon finally sees the light. Ever since M2Z first submitted our proposal on May 5th of 2006 — to offer the nation a free, nationwide, wireless broadband service, we’ve advocated for an open network and made it clear that M2Z will operate this way.

M2Z believes operating this way serves the public interest, levels the playing field for competing service providers, application providers, and device manufacturers. We see it as good business which will open up the communications ecosystem and spur far greater innovation.

In fact, in a written Ex Parte filing before the Federal Communications Commission on 8-29-07, we reiterated our commitment to a meaningful, nondiscriminatory wholesale offering and a commitment to operate our network on an “open devices” platform. Considering that M2Z made this commitment May of 2006 and that Verizon will only be implementing such strategies the end of 2008, one might say that it’s nice to see that the incumbent telephone carriers are only 2.5 years behind the innovators.

And while it’s sure nice to be right — it’s unfortunate that lack of competition in the US communications industry means that American consumers must suffer for 2.5 years until others finally “get it.”