Verizon Hugs Google, Says Android Is Key to Open Networks

In a breaking BusinessWeek story, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam says that it will support Android, Google's new platform for phones and mobile devices, making Verizon a member of sorts in the Open Handset Alliance. While this seems to be the logical conclusion to Verizon's weeklong openness bender, McAdam claims that it was the Android platform that "facilitated" Verizon's move out of the walled garden. Welcome to the same phone swapping policy you can do on GSM networks like AT&T and TMO. Oh but you can swap on those phones without calling your operator and just switching a SIM.

McAdam dismisses the idea that being a "founding" member of the OHA would have been anything more than a press-release opportunity for the carrier. Once the dev kit went out, though, he says his engineers were impressed.

"Clearly the Android system gives a lot of developers the opportunity to develop applications for a wide range of handsets."
All of this is still shocking to observers who think of Verizon as profiteer of the closed system. Clearly, Google's pressure on the FCC to permit only open-minded carriers into the 700MHz spectrum auction has a lot to do with the business decisions being made here. We originally thought Verizon was pushing hard to keep its network locked up, but McAdam claims that for a year now, he and other executives had been devising an open model that would work. Whether we believe that or not (especially given the fact that the carrier was fighting the FCC to keep things closed), we are happy with the current situation.

The result has been what we have reported over the past week: Verizon declared its network open to all phones and devices that share its network technology, following an easy security and functionality verification process. Furthermore, Verizon will migrate to the 4G standard co-developed in Europe by its parent company Vodafone, Nokia and the 3GPP, a standard that would be in line with much of the world's wireless data network.

Though this could be showboating for the FCC in the period leading up to the 700MHz spectrum auction, BusinessWeek points out the same impression that we've had, that the openness model is inevitable, and that "market demand for open networks would be impossible to hold back indefinitely." You hear that, AT&T? [BusinessWeek]