Hurray for Verizon Wireless!27 Nov

I rarely write about developments in mobile computing. But today’s announcement by Verizon Wireless that they will allow phones to use the network even if they’re not hand picked by Verizon is welcome news.

Wireless network operators have historically offered phones on the cheap with the stipulation that you sign a 1-2 year contract for their service. In addition to that lock-in period, the operator typically cripples the phone in areas that may compete with their own offerings. For example, Verizon cripples the Bluetooth features on their phones so that you can’t move pictures back and forth between your phone and your PC without going over their data network. And their Wi-Fi enabled phones certainly wouldn’t support calls over a VOIP service such as Skype.

So how will this affect the typical business owner?

  • You will pick your phone based on the features that you need (not that the operator wants you to have).
  • You will pick your wireless operator based on the best service available in your area.
  • Phones may cost more since they’re not being subsidized by a service plan. But if other carriers follow suit, you will see manufacturers producing various editions of the same phone for different types of users.
  • Service plans should cost less since they’re not being used to subsidize handsets (yeah, right!). But you may see operators trying to lock you into longer contract periods, exploring plans with differing service levels, or even completely divesting themselves of certain lines (e.g., VCAST won’t survive that long).

I’m ecstatic about this change. I think the wireless network operators have impeded progress for too long. It’s about to change.

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