Verizon unlocks GPS on some of its WinMo phones

Verizon Wireless has decided to allow a certain number of its Windows Mobile handsets to have standalone GPS, breaking them free from Verizon's proprietary navigation software.

Verizon previously had locked these phones so they could only use VZ Navigator. However, according to an official statement released from the carrier, the Samsung Omnia, Samsung Saga and HTC Touch Pro will all get firmware updates in the first half of 2009 allowing them to use standalone GPS software such as Google Maps.

According to a statement made by Steve Schwed, Verizon's HQ Executive Relations Supervisor, Verizon has worked out a solution with Windows Mobile to get a software upgrade for the three devices sometime in the first half of next year. Schwed said the reason that certain features--i.e. standalone GPS--may not be enabled on Verizon handsets is that they do not meet "performance goals."

"We will often choose to introduce the phone without that feature but ask that the manufacturer come back to us with revised software that has to be tested to make sure the service works the same across our entire wireless footprint--from Maine to Hawaii," he said in the statement. "In the case of open standalone GPS, we are partnering with the Windows Mobile device manufacturers to provide a software upgrade that will add this capability to the existing assisted GPS capability."

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