Verizon Wireless plans to open up its wireless network to outside devices, software and services, continuing a change of heart for the mobile carrier in advance of the upcoming 700MHz wireless spectrum auction next month.
The company, a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone, on Tuesday said it expects to begin allowing third-party devices on its network by the end of next year.
Before Verizon Wireless allows a third-party device to use the network, however, it must first be tested and approved, according to the company.
Verizon Wireless said in a statement that any device that meets the “minimum technical standard” would be activated on the network.
The testing requirement applies only to devices, the company added—consumers will be free to use any application they wish on those devices.
The company said it plans to begin offering technical specs and standards to developers early next year, enabling them to build devices and applications that can use the Verizon network. Verizon also said it plans to host a developer conference, during which it will explain its network standards and work with developers and device vendors to hammer out differences.
The move comes as the country’s entrenched mobile network players face mounting pressure from non-traditional companies pushing into wireless.
It also marks an especially abrupt about-face for Verizon Wireless in particular, which, like AT&T and other major wireless carriers, is expected to bid in the Federal Communications Commission’s 700MHz wireless spectrum auction next month.
To encourage competition from non-traditional bidders like Internet firms, the FCC in July added
requirements that would force winners of one hotly contested spectrum portion to enable consumers to access it using any mobile device or software they wish.
While the move received applause from Internet giants like Google—which has suggested that it’s prepared to shell out upwards of $4.6 billion during the auction—it immediately came under fire from traditional wireless players.
In September, Verizon filed a lawsuit charging that the FCC’s open-access rules were contrary to existing law, violated the U.S. Constitution and exceed the commission’s authority. Last month, the company dropped the appeal without comment.
Verizon now seems to be continuing that change in policy with Tuesday’s announcement. In a statement, the company said its new plan to support open access demonstrates that it has been listening to “a small but growing number of customers who want another choice.”
Likewise, company execs painted the new policy as a move to encourage expansion.