Friday, December 7, 2007

Wireless Carriers Opening their Networks

I think it is great when wireless carriers are opening up their networks. Verizon kicked things off a couple of weeks ago, and AT&T followed suit yesterday.

However, what does it really mean to the consumer. For Verizon, they use a CDMA network and it is hard for anyone to find phones in other parts of the world that are sexy enough to bring back to the US. For AT&T, anyone that purchased a GSM phone that was unlocked and operated on the right frequencies could use their phone on the AT&T network (just change the SIM cards). So I am a bit confused on what AT&T's openness policy really means. I then saw this paragraph in the
USA Today:
AT&T for years kept quiet the fact that wireless customers had the option of using devices and applications other than those offered by AT&T. But now salespeople in AT&T phone stores will make sure that consumers "know all their options" before making a final purchase.

So customers were kept in the dark, which is pretty uncool. However, even if customers were shown the light would it have changed their purchasing decision. An unlocked non-contractual phone costs 300 - 500 dollars and you could get the same phone with a 1 or 2 year contract possibly for free. Which one are people going to choose?

I think openness is great, but I'd be really surprised if it changes the immediate purchasing decisions made by consumers. It may in the future when the cost of unlocked and non-contractual devices comes down, but probably not now. I'll just be tied to the network that supports the iPhone from now on.

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