Verizon Wireless Promises Unlocked GPS Receivers Next Year!

Integrated GPS receivers are a must-have features in today’s high-end handsets. Location-based applications are becoming ever more popular, and has thrust GPS functionality into the spotlight. That is, unless you’re sporting hardware emblazoned with Verizon Wireless’s logo.

Verizon Wireless has earned the distinction of being one of the most closed and controlling wireless carriers in the US. So controlling, in fact, that Verizon Wireless has insisted on crippling the integrated GPS receivers in its high-end smartphones to work only with the carrier’s VZ Navigator service – which costs an additional $9.99 per month.

But, Verizon is apparently looking to turn over a new leaf. Following on a software update that enabled the GPS receiver on some Verizon BlackBerry handsets, a Verizon memo details the company’s plans to open up the built-in GPS receiver in many of its handsets. Rather than continuing to cripple features that may not meet Verizon’s performance “standard,” Verizon will be working with handset manufacturers to roll out software updates that will fully enable the GPS hardware to work with any applications.

The first handsets in line to be blessed with fully-open GPS functionality will be the Verizon Omnia, Saga, and Touch Pro. Verizon is looking to unlock the trio’s GPS hardware by 1H 2009.

The memo:

Verizon Wireless, like all carriers, orders devices to meet certain specifications inclusive of features. Each of these specs is tested to determine if it meets our performance goals. There are instances when the phone will pass our extensive testing process but a specific feature may not meet the standard. We will often choose to introduce the phone without that feature but ask that the manufacturer come back to us with revised software that has to be tested to make sure the service works the same across our entire wireless footprint –from Maine to Hawaii. In the case of open standalone GPS, we are partnering with the Windows Mobile device manufacturers to provide a software upgrade that will add this capability to the existing assisted GPS capability. This is a complex development project to provide open standalone GPS while maintaining the assisted GPS capability with the level of performance and security that our customers expect. The recently introduced Windows Mobile devices including Omnia, Saga, and Touch Pro are targeted to add open standalone GPS in the 1st half of 2009.

Steve Schwed
Verizon Wireless
HQ Executive Relations Supervisor

[Via: WMExperts]

  • Frank Lehnerz

    This better include the Blackberry Pearl and Curve models that have semi crippled GPS

  • J

    I wrote to Verizon and they called me back and in the message they left they said there were no plans to unlock the Touch Pro. Is the memo from this post actually on their website anywhere?

  • Dogstar

    I just got off the phone with Verizon Customer Service and Tech Support and they are unaware of any plans to release any updated firmware for the Samsung Omnia. Too bad too. I would buy one if the GPS was freed from its capitalist shackles.

  • VZW

    All phones are now unlocked.

    BlackBerrys, Omina, Touch Pro, ect.

    • Necio

      Says who? And how do we update them?

    • dogemperor

      Do you have any specific instructions as to how to do the necessary updates for the Omnia?

    • Greg

      Hello Verizon…”All phones are unlocked for GPS now”? Only for a total of 3 applications for my Verizon Blackberry Curve 8330. I still can’t use it for geocaching as it is crippled. Thanks for nothing!

  • J

    Just got off the phone with a VZW tech, he said the Touch Pro is not unlocked and there are no plans to unlock it.

  • Anger

    A valid reason to lock down built-in GPS due to performance issue ? Hope Verizon really can answer these questions:-
    1) performance issue only for verizon but not other carriers ? Ashamed on you…
    2) Verizon allowed the phone to be released with a locked function that is already built-in the device ? Why bother to release the phone if there is something still not comply to their standard ? Imagine as you bought a hybrid car but lockdown not to use the battery until further fix, so your hybrid car basically running full fuel system for now, speechless …..
    3) There is nothing mentioned from the phone manufacturers themselves, perhaps some CEO from the manufacturers make public announcement of such problem of the builtin GPS how do they NOT comply with the carrier standard ?

  • Kilroy

    I think VZW is just money hungry and the don’t care about the users, they might pretend to but don’t. I have a xv6900 that I have had unlocked GPS for quite some time with no problems what so ever, VZW is just make excuses to keep locking their devices.

    Same on you Verizon, you need to get into the 21st century and unlock your devices and release phones with all built in functionality working properly instead of crippling them and blaming the phone manufacturers. Plus, keep the phones updated with all necessary drivers to make them function to the best of their abilities. My touch is capable of running the Vibrant TouchFLO 3D, because you and the manufactures have not included all the necessary drivers it will not work, again shame on you, these phones cost us a pretty penny, and in today’s economical times, you should do your best to make us happy.

  • jammywanks

    Shame on verizon and Ivan Seidenburg. A real hebrew. I like the hybrid car anaolgy… Verizon… pull your head out of your ass.

  • DJyoSNOW

    I’ve don the samsung omnia rom update wich gave me more features better battery life ect.! I still have yet to figure out how to us the supposed unlocked gps. I did a phone settings change and now get a specific 3rd party application message. Though Live Search & Googles map still don’t recognize the gps which is supposedly updated and unlocked?

  • Chris York

    Well, looks like the greedy SOB’s that make up Verizon, have decide to not honor what this ‘HQ Executive Relations Supervisor’ Steve Schwed stated to the whole and make him a lair. Does Verizon have a ROM to honor this commitment, Yes! Will they release it, No. “Still have legal issues to resolve” is the BS they are dishing out now. They say one things to get the hype and quietly forget or ignore it later on when the loyal customers (I for one, have been a loyal customer since before Verizon was Verizon. Started with the same phone number since 1997) want to them to be accountable. VZW has 1 phone unlocked, funny how is also one of the worse response to a launch in their recent history.

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