It looks like Google is about to get everything it wants. The king of closed wireless networks, Verizon Wireless, this morning said it will open its networks to "wireless devices, software and applications not offered by the carrier." Now what's next?After the iPhone and Google Android, this is third-biggest wireless news story of 2007. I think it's safe to assume that if Verizon Wireless opens its network by the end of 2008, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile will follow. In addition, we can expect to see Google Android applications and devices running on all of these networks by around the same time.
The big question for the wireless industry for the next year will center on the definition of open. Just how open can a regulated industry, like the cellular wireless industry, be? Given the degree to which the FCC regulates wireless spectrum, this industry will never be an open as the landline broadband industry is today. There would need to be significant regulatory reform to achieve that and even then, given the expense of running a wireless network and the nature of network access technologies, no cellular network will ever be as open as a landline one. But things are about to get a lot more open than they are today.
This is potentially great news for the mobile business market. If Verizon Wireless and the rest of the carriers open their networks, CIOs and IT managers will soon be able to pool mobile devices and manage them similarly to the way they manage laptops. Many of the tougher issues surrounding mobile device management could soon fade away as CIOs and IT managers gain the power to go outside of the traditional carrier sales channels. IT buyers will be able to go directly to vendors like Motorola, RIM, and Microsoft and not have to deal with the carriers for their entire mobile IT needs.
What do you think? How will Verizon Wireless' announcement change the wireless industry in the United States? And how will it change the business mobility market?