AT&T Network Is Open? Well, Isn’t That GSM?


This takes the cake for the strangest story ever: USAT has a story which says that AT&T (NYSE: T) is throwing open its network to any device player, “starting immediately”. Well, it is a GSM network, and anyone with an AT&T SIM can use any GSM-enabled on an unlocked phone on the network, which means tons of Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and other handset companies’ phones. “And they don’t have to sign a contract” part: well, they don’t need to sign a contract to move from an AT&T- mandated handset to another handset while still on the network, do they? I don’t get it…what’s the story about, and what is Ralph de la Vega trying to get across?

The story says AT&T sales reps at the stores will make sure that consumers “know all their options” before making a final purchase, but Vega won’t say whether AT&T plans to launch a marketing campaign to push “open” platforms, but allows that might be a possibility. Confused? Well, I am.

One thing I can guess: they’re trying to say that Verizon’s (NYSE: VZ) marketing message about how it is becoming open and how that is novel, is not, and AT&T and T-Mobile USA, both running on GSM networks, are way more open as a result. But has the journalist never covered the mobile industry before to buy all this PR?



mk makes a good point – no way are apps freeing up at all, and the wireless companies are only 'opening up' to off deck sales because their customers increasingly demand it and they simply can't deny choice any longer. I consider that the new thinking in open apps development will come from platforms such as OpenMoko and for true independant content choice, free market content models like voeveo – who can and do bill the transaction directly to the buyer.

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Couldnt agree more. I think verizon's announcement is equally ridicolous as its hardly locking the handset to the network that buys them power in the value chain – Its their close to 100% owned retail outlets where they sell subsidized devices that most of the country buys. That isnt going to change from one announcement. On the apps model they claim to be freeing up – its just an extention of a now popular off deck revenue strategy. The real big announcement would be if they decided to let someone else bill the transaction to the customer….

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