Sound off - Industry Players Discuss Verizon's Open Access Announcement

Here's what members of the wireless industry are saying about Verizon Wireless' Nov. 27 announcement that it will give consumers the option to use any application and any wireless device that meets minimal technical requirements on its network.

"I think the reality of the open network is that Verizon is saying you can have it but you don't really want it. Some of you think you want it, but you are just geeks. If you are a serious customer, you will need us. And we love you and we have the best network." -Iain Gillott, founder, iGR Research



"This is another encouraging step towards the wireless industry recognizing the value of openness. We look forward to working with wireless operators, including Verizon, to maximize a Skype user's ability to choose to have their conversations wherever, whenever and however they would like." -Christopher Libertelli, senior director of government & regulatory affairs, Skype

"I believe this move was inevitable. The only uncertainties were which carrier would take the lead and when it would happen. Kudos to Verizon for recognizing the immediate benefits it accrues as well as the longer term strategic implications. Networks are going to be open; and carriers have a choice as to whether they will have control or be controlled. Open networks will spur innovation -- good news for developers. Yet, the impact on carriers, who have spent billions of dollars building their networks, will be substantial. Open access will force carriers to look to something other than their own applications and content --or find a new means by which to bring their offerings to the forefront of an already crowded deck -- to augment declining ARPU. There are still a number of unanswered questions such as: the means by which increasing consumption of data will be managed, and who will have ultimate responsibility for customer care. Stay tuned." -Stephanie Grossman, CEO of digital SIDEBAR

"The Verizon announcement of Any App and Any Device on their network is interesting for a number of reasons but we all know that it was made because of the mounting pressure being brought on network operators by Google and others who believe in full open access for wireless networks. I believe that Verizon will open their network but they are also responsible for protecting the network against attacks, rogue applications and devices--hence the statement that the device and applications must meet minimal technical requirements. With 60 million customers they cannot afford to let a single device or application bring down a portion of their network even for a few minutes. When the Internet is unavailable to us, we just accept that because there is no customer service beyond our on DSL or cable provider for Internet issues. However, Verizon and other network operators do have customer support and they cannot afford to have their lines jammed by unhappy customers because one data hog has had a negative effect on the network.

"Having said that, with open access there will be a different pricing model. We do not have unlimited wireless bandwidth. Those people who are used to drinking from the Internet using a fire hose will now have to understand that they will have access to the same type of performance as the fire hose SOME of the time. So we will see different pricing models emerge. If you use wireless broadband for email and other light data requirements you will pay less for the service then those who want to download a streaming video or two from the Internet. In other words, the limited, shared bandwidth we have available to us over wireless will be available based on the volume of data we require and the time of day we request it. A feature movie downloaded at 2 p.m. in the afternoon will cost us more than if we download it at 2 a.m. because of the difference in network traffic.

"Verizon is the first but not the last network operator to offer up a more open network but we need to understand that it will still be a managed network and that their responsibility to make bandwidth available for ALL of their customers all of the time will still be a prime concern of theirs."-Andrew Seybold, founder, Andrew Seybold Inc.

"We fully support Verizon's 'Any Apps, Any Device' option and feel this will be another important way for CDMA service providers to offer their customers a choice and set the bar for a new level of innovation and growth. Allowing consumers to download and use applications, content and services­ outside any one operator's walled garden ­is evidence of healthy evolution in the wireless world. As long as devices are certified not to interfere with network performance, this initiative will help open the playing field to other innovators and allow only the best networks, operators and services to thrive." -Perry LaForge, executive director, CDMA Development Group (CDG)

"Like a lot of people, I'm pumped about Verizon's open network announcement. This will bring more investment dollars to an industry that is already on fire, drive innovation which will lead to better products and services. Super.
I'm worried about the consumer though. Sure, innovation means more choice, but choice isn't always the best thing. Think about it. Five years ago, it was really complicated to figure out what wireless products to select. Since then, the complexity of options has compounded by orders of magnitude.
There's a study called "The Paradox of Choice," in which psychologist Barry Schwartz discovered that too much choice becomes "not only unproductive, but counterproductive-a source of pain, regret . . ." In Blink, Malcom Gladwell shared research showing that reducing the selection of jelly flavors from 24 to six varieties sent jelly sales skyrocketing.
We're seeing it in our own research of online shopping behavior for wireless. Consumers are spending increasing amounts of time evaluating and considering their options. They go to carrier sites, third party sites, blogs and then start over again before they can make a purchase decision. This will get worse, possibly even become paralyzing as Schwartz suggests unless we come up with a way to make all of these emerging variables digestible for consumers to consider." -Adam Guy, General Manager, telecommunications and media, Compete Inc

"Open Access will mean different things to different people in the mobile value chain. One thing I'm willing to bet on, though, is that Verizon Wireless' "open access" approach won't mean "inexpensive, unlimited, mobile broadband" access, which tends to be what users and application developers dream of having. It's one thing to allow any technologically capable device (i.e. CDMA EV-DO) to use the network, but it's another to let that device use it for a pittance.

"I can imagine VZW only offering "unlimited," flat rate service bundles to selected devices or providing a multi-tiered rate plan that has much higher rates for devices that aren't managed and controlled by the carrier. They can't afford to give away the service, after all, just in the name of "openness!" In their announcement they seemed to be saying users will only have to pay for what they use (which sounds like metered kilobyte pricing to me).

"Providing a more open development environment for application providers and device innovators, however, is a very good thing, even if it comes at a price. For that much, anyway, we can be optimistic this announcement will advance the mobile data industry rather than just provide another dark alley to explore." -Jim Grams, president, Black Oak Associates

"The US and global wireless and mobile industry is shifting from a traditional closed transmission-specific radio system to the future Open Wireless Architecture (OWA) service-oriented convergence platform for he complete openness and simplicity of the users' mobile handset device. We are very glad to see that Google, China Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some major vendors including Intel, Oracle, Qualcomm, TI, NEC, Motorola and Ericsson are realizing the great value of such openness as they drive this global movement. In the long run, future wireless communications will follow two laws: open radio spectrum and open wireless architecture." - Prof. Willie Lu, chairman of World Wireless Congress, former Stanford University professor and former member of the FCC Technological Advisory Council.