Verizon customers will get faster phones that can roam in Europe and Asia as well as work on AT&T's network.
Verizon Wireless made two announcements last week that will result in more choices of faster phones and services. The first, is the widely-reported decision to open its mobile network to others' devices, while the second, which was generally overlooked, amplifies the significance of the open network.
Verizon will use Long Term Evolution for its so-called fourth generation high-speed network.
For years, Verizon's use of CDMA isolated it from the majority of global phone industry, which relies on GSM. That meant Verizon customers had fewer phones to choose from, and major players such as Sony-Ericsson, which pulled out of the CDMA market entirely, and Nokia, which offers few of its models for CDMA, were locked out of Verizon and it customers.
When Verizon moves to LTE, it will presumably offer the same types of next-generation phones as AT&T in the U.S., and those used throughout most of Europe and Asia.
Verizon's 60 million-plus customers should get more choices, and relatively lower prices as a result. The timing is uncertain, but some analysts estimate we'll see LTE phones in 2009.
Combined with Verizon's avowed support for other's devices, this opens many opportunities that will take years to sort out. Presumably, we'll see smartphones from Nokia, running on Verizon's coming LTE network, offering Nokia's A-GPS mapping and navigation services, plus its music store, blogs and other services in competition with Verizon's own.
Verizon LTE phones will be able to roam on European networks of Vodaphone, it's 50% owner.
LTE, which promises to offer downloads at 100 megabits per second, competes to be the next-generation cellular protocol with WiMAX, supported Intel, Sprint and others, and Ultra Mobile Broadband, developed by Qualcom.
Debate continues about which of LTE, UMB and WiMAX is the fasest, most cost-effective, and flexible with billions at stake for companies from switch suppliers, to headset manufacturers, to the carriers.
But it looks as if Verizon -- and its 60 million customers -- will no longer be stuck on the CDMA island isolated from most of the cellular world.