Verizon Plans to Open Network to Others` Devices

 
 
By Reuters -  |  Posted 2008-03-19
 
 
 
 NEW YORK (Reuters) - Verizon Wireless, the No. 2 U.S. mobile service, plans to support a "few hundred thousand" devices linked to outsiders this year through its open network initiative, Chief Executive Lowell McAdam said on Wednesday.

The wireless venture of Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc has promised to open its service to any device capable of connecting to its network, in addition to handsets it sells.

The move came after companies such as Web search leader Google Inc put pressure on U.S. operators to loosen controls on the types of devices their networks support.

McAdam said the company hoped to create a new revenue stream by opening its network to devices that could range from wireless cameras or music players to phones with Web surfing features or even carbon-monoxide detectors.

With the first devices expected to come onto the network later this year, McAdam expects the service to grow gradually. He made the remarks in an interview with Reuters during a Verizon Wireless developer conference in New York.

The company launched an Internet site on Wednesday where developers can register to start the certification process for their devices, which could take four weeks or more.

"If we can just get a few hundred thousand (devices) on this year we'll be happy," McAdam said. "We'll grow from there."

He said the company has sparked interest from a range of potential partners, spanning entrepreneurs to the world's biggest technology companies such as Cisco Systems Inc, Intel Corp, Dell Inc, Microsoft Corp and Google Inc, McAdam said.

He said talks with big technology companies had been "general" and did not give details.

"There is a broad spectrum of companies that are at least considering their options," said McAdam on the sidelines of the Verizon conference in which about 300 developers participated.

NO IPHONE TALKS

McAdam told a group of reporters at the event he has not had discussions about the open network initiative with Apple Inc, which makes the high-profile iPhone.

He said about 60 percent of the developers that have talked to Verizon are entrepreneurs who expect to sell about 10,000 to 50,000 devices. Verizon had 65.7 million customers at the end of 2007.

Under the new project, device makers could sell their products independently of Verizon Wireless, with the option of having the phone company bill customers at the same rates as Verizon Wireless charges its direct customers.

But unlike most Verizon Wireless customers, who commit to a contract for a year or two in exchange for a discount on the price of the phone, the customers of these third party devices would not sign a contract or receive a device discount from Verizon Wireless.

McAdam said the company has also looked at creating new options where customers could have several devices for a single monthly rate.

Device makers can also rent network space on a wholesale basis from Verizon Wireless and bill customers directly.

McAdam would not say how much additional revenue he expects the service to bring, but said there had been a lot of interest.

"We've had a tidal wave of interest," from developers McAdam told Reuters.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by John Wallace/Andre Grenon)

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