In the wireless industry, the best weapon any one carrier has against their rivals is the mighty pen. Well, it’s more like the “mighty keyboard,” but you get the point. Not to be outdone by the other big-dog in the play-pen, AT&T has announced that they’ll be opening up their network to “wireless phone, device and software application from any maker.” Beating rival Verizon to the punch, AT&T’s network will be open to all GSM devices and applications “starting immediately.”
“You can use any handset on our network you want,” says Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T’s wireless business. “We don’t prohibit it, or even police it.” AT&T customers can choose from a world of feature-phone and smartphone options, and they don’t even have to sign a contract to get on AT&T’s network.
And, to rub it in the face of Google’s OHA, AT&T boasted that they are doing today what the OHA has planned for a year from now. Ralph de la Vega added that “We are the most open wireless company in the industry.” So, it looks like Google and the OHA successfully revolutionized the wireless market – just as we expected.
Or did it? While Google’s move to create an open-platform for mobile phones and wireless networks has prompted an all-out PR-war between the largest network operators, did it really prompt AT&T to open up their network any more than the rest of the GSM-world? Not really. AT&T’s announcement of an open network is basically a reiteration of the way a GSM network works. You can take any unlocked GSM phone, pop in an AT&T SIM card, and start using that device with any software you see fit – it’s always been that way and always will. So, just what did AT&T accomplish with this announcement? Aside from one-upping their competitors in the PR deathmatch that is the wireless-game…nothing.