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Verizon opens network in historic move

GSM flexibility on CDMA network

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US network operator Verizon has announced they are to open up their network next year, allowing devices to be attached to their network and applications to be run on it with only the most basic approval process.

Anyone using GSM networks will already be familiar with their ability to slip their operator-provided SIM into any GSM device, from a surveillance camera to a fridge magnet, and have it work instantly, but in the USA networks using CDMA technology have kept a much stronger hold on their customers and suppliers.

CDMA does have a SIM-equivalent, the R-UIM (Re-Useable Identification Module), but it's never been widely supported in handsets nor - more importantly - by operators.

Verizon is making much of the announcement and suggesting that hobbyists and small hardware companies will be able to get their equipment approved. But the real winners are likely to be Nokia and their brethren who will be able to create handsets with their own software and applications pre-installed, and sell them direct to Verizon customers.

Most GSM operators will test handsets prior to approving them for use on their network, but within any territory (such as the UK) approval by one operator generally means rubber-stamping by the others - thus, once approved, a device can use any operator's SIM. Quite how that will work in the CDMA world, where handset subsidies are calculated on the basis that the handset can never be moved to another network, remains to be seen.

But this announcement is important, and is indicative of the way the US is rapidly catching up with the rest of the world when it comes to mobile technology and applications. ®

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