Is an open network necessary?

When Verizon Wireless announced its Open Development Initiative back in the fall of 2007, the carrier closely linked its embedded vision to open networks, making it seem as if an open network was necessary to foster the embedded wireless ecosystem.

Verizon's ODI initially provided specs for the carrier's existing networks (1xEVDO and 1xRTT) and it hired a third party device certification lab to complete device testing as quickly as possible--within four weeks, or less. And last month Verizon provided its device partners with the specs for the company's upcoming LTE network that it plans to start launching in late 2009 in the 700 MHz spectrum, which carries an open network stipulation from the FCC.

According to Maurice Thompson, director of business development and solutions for Verizon's Open Development Initiative, the ODI program is expanding and growing thanks to the firm's open stance. "We add devices almost on a daily basis," Thompson says. "We are seeing a wide range of devices as a result of opening up the network and launching the ODI program."

Although initially most of the devices offered through the ODI program have been very machine-to-machine oriented and tailored to specific niche markets, Thompson says that the company is working with device makers to introduce consumer electronics products in the fall.

But when it comes to distributing these devices, Thompson says that Verizon will work with the device makers to get the devices to the customers. Many of the carrier's partners have their own distribution models, but Verizon will consider distributing products through Verizon Wireless stores if they are good fit. "It's not part of the ODI program but we haven't ruled it out," Thompson says. "There could be opportunities where a certain type of device could find its way into a Verizon store."

For more on the open network and its role in the embedded ecosystem, check out the FierceMarkets virtual Embedded Wireless device event June 9. The Open Network panel begins at 3:15 p.m.