Google’s push to open the C block spectrum spurred Verizon to announce on Wednesday that it would allow devices it does not sell to use its network later this year. In the short term, this could have the simple implication that a person can use Verizon’s calling plan with any unlocked cell phone. But in the long term, says Reed, the open network could lead to other types of devices, such as cameras and mobile computers taking advantage of cellular networks. “I think the best-case scenario is that there will more likely be new classes of devices not specifically thought of as phones,” he says.
In addition to new types of devices, Reed says, constant connectivity using different wireless services could become possible. Verizon and other providers have historically not allowed devices on their networks to use Wi-Fi. The breakthrough for cell phones and Wi-Fi came with the Apple iPhone, Reed says, but that decision “was a special deal.” But now, he says, it’ll be easier for device makers to build communications that don’t need to be tied down to the rules of a cellular provider.
In particular, the open C block will be a boon to Google’s mobile-phone software project called Android. “The Android project has been a big beneficiary of the openness of the spectrum,” Reed says. Networks such as Verizon, he says, were not going to be able to keep up with the next-generation devices without opening up.
By letting device makers take advantage of the open spectrum, Verizon benefits too. “It turned out well for both Verizon and Google,” Reed says “There’s a new basis for both competitions and cooperation that will hopefully generate much more innovation that will benefit everybody.”