Open handsets and a few dark horses

With the 700 MHz auction scheduled to start in January, expect the show to be buzzing with speculation over how the FCC's "open access" rules will affect handsets. The winning bidder of the "open access" C Block spectrum slice will have to allow "any device" onto its network, per FCC's auction rules. So what does this mean for handset makers' relationships with carriers? Will this rule spark a flurry of handsets by niche players?

While "open access" will figure prominently into the discussion, handset makers hope their latest offerings will somehow break the industry's obsession with Apple's iPhone. There are a number of rumored handset launches at the conference next week.

Both Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel have either confirmed or overtly announced their lineup of phones for the rest of the year, T-Mobile USA and AT&T have not been so forthcoming. AT&T has inspired a healthy crop of handset rumors. An allegedly leaked document from the carrier points to an LG Prada phone making its debut soon along with this fall's dark horse: a red iPhone.

It doesn't have a carrier attached to it yet, but Nokia's N810 tablet is another device that may make its debut next week. The tablet is going to be featured at the Nokia/Def Jam/mSpot party. -Brian