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Verizon Wireless to unveil open network specs

The company plans to unveil the first version of specifications for devices and applications that will run over its "Any Device, Any App" service.

Verizon Wireless on March 19 plans to release the first version of specifications that developers will use to build new devices and applications to run over its open network service.

The company said Monday that it will release Version 1.0 of the specifications at its Open Development Device Conference scheduled for March 19 and March 20 in New York. The specifications will be used by application developers and handset makers so that they can create new applications and devices that will run on Verizon's "Any Device, Any App" network service. Verizon announced in November that it would open up its network to allow devices and applications not specifically approved by Verizon Wireless to run on its network.

"Version 1.0 will provide the road map for wireless device visionaries and tinkerers, as well as existing device makers, to create consumer products not offered directly by the company, which can run on the nation's most reliable network," Anthony A. Lewis, vice president of the Open Development initiative at Verizon Wireless, said in a statement.

This was a huge change for Verizon Wireless, which has operated one of the most closed wireless services in the country. The company has been notorious for being the most stringent about qualifying devices and applications for its service and disabling certain features on some handsets. But in November, Verizon shifted gears and announced that it would offer a service that allowed devices and applications not specifically approved by the company to be used on its network.

The idea of open wireless networks has been gaining momentum over the past year. This summer the Federal Communications Commission included an open access provision in rules for certain licenses in the 700MHz spectrum auction, which began in January.

Verizon's move to open its network followed Google's announcement that it was developing an open software platform for mobile phones. The search company also announced it was spearheading a consortium to build an ecosystem of component suppliers, device makers, and carriers that will use the new Android software. The first prototype handsets using Android were shown at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this month.

Apple is also supposedly about to release a software development kit for its iPhone that is expected to open up that device to a slew of new applications that have not been developed by Apple.

But even though Verizon appears to be embracing the network openness, the proof will be in how it actually implements the service. If it prices the service much higher than its traditional cell phone services, it could discourage consumers from even trying it. Then, Verizon's consumers would still be locked into its handsets and applications.