Verizon's news today that it will offer "open access" to its wireless network is a shot across AT&T's bow, and could be the first major step toward opening what has developed into a kind of "Kremlin" for connectivity.
Verizon says by the end of next year, customers will be able to use any wireless device and software applications on its nationwide wireless network that are currently unavailable today. In other words, hardware and software that had been exclusive to other wireless carriers will be able to work on Verizon's system, as long as it meets Verizon's minimum technology standards.
Now, before you jump to the conclusion that you'll be able to buy your iPhone from Apple and run across the street and activate it at the Verizon store, remember that iPhone is a GSM-based phone, and Verizon is a CDMA network. Two competing platforms that today are not compatible. But that's not to say that if AT&T follows Verizon's lead and opens its network capabilities, that Apple some day down the road may offer a CDMA-based iPhone. A longshot, sure, but a possibility.
The Verizon news for now is far more important for the likes of Motorola, Nokia, Palm, Research in Motion and the other handset makers offering devices for both CDMA and GSM. It could also mean new options for a host of other hardware makers looking for some kind of connectivity, whether it be game-players or home appliances that will offer wireless connectivity to a network. In other words, news that could be as good for traditional handset makers as it would be for Sony, LG, Samsung, and other consumer electronics makers.