CTIA: Carriers talk "open" network but no clear definition

SAN FRANCISCO--During this morning's keynote session at the CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment show in San Francisco, three of the top four U.S. wireless company CEOs attempted to explain their interpretation of "open" access and "open" wireless networks.  However, it quickly became clear that "open" still means different things to different operators and some have a clearer vision than others.

Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse said an open network is not "regulated Internet" but instead a world where the customer can use the company's new OneClick widget to have access to the mobile Web, not just sites predetermined by Sprint.  Sprint plans to have new devices available with OneClick for the holiday buying season.

On the open device front, however, Sprint still wants to maintain device authorization. Hesse said that the company does have many devices on its network that are not necessarily purchased through the Sprint network, such as the Amazon Kindle or a device from one of its MVNO partners.

For T-Mobile USA, the critical element in the open equation is for the carrier to be able to unlock innovation and allow developers to have transparency in the network. CEO Robert Dotson spoke specifically about how T-Mobile USA will advocate an open source operating system through its relationship with Google's Android OS and will use the Open Handset Alliance to get devices authorized on the network and in consumers' hands more quickly.

For Verizon Wireless, open access is not something defined by the carrier but is driven by what the consumer wants. CEO Lowell McAdam said the wireless carriers need to "open the doors but protect the network" because otherwise they will stop innovation.  One way Verizon is moving to a more open network environment is through the company's Open Device Initiative. Through ODI, new devices such as a wireless router targeted at the insurance industry are now being allowed on Verizon's network.

Click here for photos from this keynote...