Prediction: 2008 is the great open access experiment

The mantra in 2007 was open access, and 2008 will be about delivering on the lip service. Sprint Nextel is embarking on what will be the industry's first experiment with open access. The operator's WiMAX business, Xohm, revolves around open access and devices that are cheap enough for the consumer to buy outright from consumer electronics players. Verizon Wireless says in the year ahead that it will open its network and enable subscribers to use devices, software and applications from third-party providers. AT&T piped in and said it already offers open access. Regardless of how serious Verizon and AT&T are about open access, the crux of the issue is whether full-priced devices can make an impact in a market that heavily relies on subsidized devices. You can bet that Nokia will be working hard to appeal directly to the consumer, but 2008 will be the great experiment for open access that will have little impact on the consumer.