The Rocky Road to Open Wireless Networks

Carl Weinschenk

Mobile open access -- which in its purest form is the use any device on any network -- is a far better approach than today's fragmented and proprietary way of doing business. This Light Reading piece, written as an advance for the Broadband Wireless World part of NXTcomm08 slated for June in Las Vegas, points out that everyone will benefit from open access, including device makers, third-party application developers, network providers and, of course, users.


The next step is execution. No matter how many different groups benefit, the transition won't be easy. The piece describes the landscape at the starting point. Essentially, operators know that it is expedient to appear open to open access. Whether, and to what extent, they deliver remains to be seen. There is an inherent reluctance to change and sticky political and financial issues to wade through. From an operational point of view, it will be difficult to hash out how devices will be certified for use on a carriers' network. Open access is a radical departure from the ordered and closed model of the wireless world, and providers will have to find ways to give customers a secure and consistent level of service.


Such a switch won't happen without a good deal of maneuvering. On Friday, according to The New York Times, Google requested that the FCC make sure that Verizon Wireless lives up to its promise to employ open access in the 700 MHz C-block of spectrum it won at the auction earlier this year. The story says that Verizon has hinted at a two-tier system and filed a lawsuit to seeking that the Commission be compelled to abandon the open-access plan. That suit was dropped, but one brought by the CTIA -- of which Verizon is a member -- still is pending.


All the pushback apparently makes Google, which masterminded the move to open access, nervous. Google used its influence to force the inclusion of open-access rules. According to comments executive made after a post-auction quiet period ran out, the company went so far as to bid against itself in 10 rounds to ensure that the reserve price of $4.6 billion was reached, triggering the C-block open-access rules. The company said it was prepared to actually buy the spectrum if no other bidders emerged.


All the complications will pass, and a great wave of creativity will wash over the wireless world. This BBC News piece captures the flavor of what will be an exciting world. In short, nothing remotely resembling what is possible in the new environment can happen in today's traditional setting in which carriers ride close herd over devices and applications. The piece includes comments from Nokia, Mozilla and Google. Before folks get too excited, however, it is important to keep in mind a TechCrunch representative's opinion that the fruits of all this creativity won't reach consumers for 18 months.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post

Post a comment





(Maximum characters: 1200). You have 1200 characters left.




Subscribe to our Newsletters

Sign up now and get the best business technology insights direct to your inbox.