Verizon opens door to Android, Google Voice

Verizon Wireless announced a pact with Google to not only offer devices with the firm's Android platform but also deliver such controversial applications as Google Voice to its subscribers. The action is notable considering the two companies have often clashed over various business- and policy-related issues.

eric smidt lowell mcadam verizon google androidTouting the company's devotion to an open network and open applications, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam said during a conference call this morning that Verizon will launch two Android devices this year, but noted that would be just the beginning of a multi-year roadmap of Android devices and applications. Verizon and Google said they will collaborate on numerous Android phones, and that the phones will be preloaded with applications from both parties as well as third-party developers. When asked if Verizon would support Google Voice, McAdam hesitated a beat and said: "Yes, I suppose we do. Yes, we will bring that app to market when we do the first device."

Verizon's support for Google Voice flies in the face of AT&T's recent request that the FCC investigate Google Voice. AT&T claims that the application violates both federal call-blocking regulations and net neutrality principles by improperly blocking calls to certain rural areas. Google and AT&T partner Apple have been at odds over the Google Voice application for several months because of Apple's apparent rejection of the Google Voice app from its iPhone App Store.

During the companies' conference call, Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt effusively praised Verizon and its data network, calling it the "best in the U.S., by far." In addition, he said that Google was impressed with Verizon's leadership and the carrier's open philosophy. "We did not know, until we got to know them, that they would take the leadership on openness. Verizon's leadership has embraced a different philosophy."

Of course, the Verizon/Google partnership comes just weeks after FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that the FCC plans to implement net neutrality guidelines and open Internet regulations against wireless and wireline networks--an action that Verizon Wireless has voiced concerns about. However, McAdam said Verizon's deal with Google was not a reaction to the FCC's net neutrality push. "One of the worst things you can do is manage a business by what is going on in the newspaper and Washington, D.C."

Verizon executives said the carrier's partnership with Google will not impact its other business relationships, such as Verizon's work with Microsoft (a Google rival).

The teaming of the business behemoths is notable in light of disagreements between the two in a number of areas. Google is actively supporting the FCC's current push to impose net neutrality guidelines while Verizon has argued that additional regulation--especially in wireless--is unnecessary. Further, Google supported the FCC's efforts to impose open-access stipulations on the C Block portion of last year's 700 MHz spectrum auction, which Verizon Wireless initially resisted. Interestingly, though, Verizon Wireless ended up purchasing nationwide C-Block spectrum, and is using it for its LTE deployment.

For more:
- see this release
- see this FierceWireless guide to Android devices

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