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Verizon's open-door policy yields dip stick

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The first third-party device has been approved for connection to the Verizon network under the Open Development Initiative, and it's a very exciting electronic dip stick.

Verizon announced last November that it would be approving third-party devices for connection to their network, offering an alternative to buying handsets from the operator. The announcement prompted predictions of Google phones and homebrew handsets, with blogs gushing forth about how anyone could build their own mobile phone and completely change the industry. The reality is, as ever, rather more mundane.

SupplyNet Communications, a 21-person company based in Illinois, has the honour of getting first approval - for an electronic dip stick that sends a text message when tanks of liquid are running low. This is a fine example of just the kind of application that network operators would like to see more of, but hardly a revolution in telecommunications.

Verizon says it has spoken to a few companies about handsets, but most of the approvals will be along the same sort of lines as the electronic dip stick. Operators love that kind of application, as it utilises unused capacity while bringing in regular income. Swiss Telecom once considered embedding mobile phones in every set-top box just for updates, and we'll no doubt see mobes in all sorts of devices in the next few years as operators seek to squeeze every drop of value from their spectrum allocation.

Most of the kit Verizon approves will probably be this sort of embedded application, though we can always the hope the company will give approval to something more interesting.

European readers will have a hard time understanding all this, since the operator-approval model comes with the GSM standard and over here everyone has been free to build GSM kit since its inception. But in the US operators have traditionally had much more control over what's connected to their networks, so an electronic dip stick is still pretty exciting. ®

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