Verizon Will Open Network to Outside Devices On Tuesday, Verizon Wireless announced that it would soon open its network to non-Verizon software and devices. What might this mean for your wallet?
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Verizon Will Open Network to Outside Devices

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Verizon Will Open Network to Outside Devices

Verizon Will Open Network to Outside Devices

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Verizon Wireless made a surprise announcement this week that could change the way we keep in touch. The company has said it wants to open its vast wireless network to non-Verizon software and devices. This follows a recent ruling by the FCC that pushed for increase accessibility across networks. It also comes on the heels of tech giant Google's decision to get into the wireless business.

For more, we've called Scott Cleland, he's the president of Precursor, a techcom research and consulting firm based in Virginia. Thanks for being with us.

Mr. SCOTT CLELAND (President, Precursor LLC): Thank you.

BLOCK: And based on what Verizon has done, theoretically, come 2008, what sorts of devices should I be able to use on Verizon's network that I couldn't before?

Mr. CLELAND: Well, today, you can use a Verizon phone, and there are choices of dozens of those. But in mid-2008, you'll be able to bring your own device. Would that be another type of Blackberry, it could be a handheld PDA, it could be a laptop, potentially, a device in your car or a device in your kitchen. What Verizon is doing is it's creating a second model. Either you can have a full-service (unintelligible) where Verizon takes care of you or, if you're an early adopter or a do-it-yourselfer, you can get this new option.

BLOCK: Yeah, they've talked about this. You mentioned something in your kitchen. What kinds of appliances are they thinking could be usable on wireless networks?

Mr. CLELAND: Well, there's all this stuff about a remote home in the sense that you're driving home, you're caught in traffic. Do you want to turn on your oven or do you want to slow down your oven because dinner's cooking? Do you want to have coffee brewed for you when you get there. It allows you to link to any device electronically, like a remote control.

BLOCK: Nothing that would actually take the roast out of the refrigerator and put it in the oven, at least not yet.

Mr. CLELAND: Not yet. But certainly in the future there will be robots that can do that.

BLOCK: Oh, good. That's what I'm waiting for. Who do you think this decision by Verizon helps or how does it hurt?

Mr. CLELAND: This helped everybody. It helps consumers, it helps competition, it helps developers, it helps software providers and device manufacturers. This is pretty much a clear win-win. Who is probably surprised about this, you know, Google may be a little bit surprised. They are a winner in the sense that they're going to have more openness to their search applications, but they may be also disappointed that Verizon's opening up to Google Android, to Microsoft Mobile and to Nokia's Symbian software. So Verizon's letting everybody in.

BLOCK: There are a lot of unknown still about how this will work. But if customers are using Verizon's network without buying Verizon phones, that's going to, presumably, cut into Verizon's profits, and many would say, well, that means the price of service is going to go up.

Mr. CLELAND: Oh, let's look at this two ways. If you are someone who wants the full service and you're buying a device and the service from Verizon, you're getting more and you're going to get a lower price. If you come to Verizon and you say, I just want your service, I don't want your device, you're going to pay a higher price because you're buying less from them. There's really going to be two things that they are going to require of people that are coming in on the do-it-yourself mode.

And the first is, that they're going to have to have their device certified, meaning it won't bring spam or viruses or malware into the network. And the second thing is, is they're going to pay for what they use. It's going to be a usage model.

BLOCK: Scott, the CEO of Verizon said, in making this announcement, our arms are wide open. Do you take him at his word or is that a bit of P.R. going on?

Mr. CLELAND: Oh, I think it - I certainly take him on his word. Is it totally open? No. It's going to be closed to things that will hurt consumers.

BLOCK: Well, Scott Cleland, thanks so much for talking with us.

Mr. CLELAND: Thank you very much.

BLOCK: Scott Cleland is president of Precursor, a research and consulting firm based in Virginia. He consults for all of the major telecom companies, including Verizon.

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