AT&T: ‘We’re more open than you are!"

Sprint and T-Mobile have already committed opening up their network in at least a software capacity by joining the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) and pledging to adopt Android in some of their handsets. This could hardly be called ‘news’ as it was announced a month ago. However, as the OHA works to put together the handsets set to roll out in 2008, the eyes of the tech community start to pan back and forth at the current offerings from the other major players. Customers are asking their current providers what their plans are for next year and whether or not they will either A) join the OHA or B) open their network in some form as well.

Last week saw the announcement(s) from Verizon that they may or may not adopt Android, as they plan to open their network up with ‘Any App, Any Phone.’ Not to be outdone, AT&T has come out and claimed that they are “the most open wireless company in the industry” and that AT&T already offers all the things Google promises to bring with Android. Sure, you can take any phone that takes a SIM card, unlock it, and use any other providers’ card. You can also put an AT&T SIM card in any unlocked GSM phone in the world. Do these things make it an ‘open network’ though?

While headlines like “AT&T flings cellphone network wide open” and “Verizon Wireless Announces an Open Cellular Network” certainly garner attention for a week or two, they don’t amount to much more than acts of bravado by the two biggest carriers in the US. A lot of what we are seeing right now is reactionary. Google comes along and shakes things up in the cellular industry. Two weeks later, #2 says “Hey, we’re down with open network stuff too.” Now you’ve got everyone looking at the biggest player in the game, wondering what they are going to do. They come out with a statement that doesn’t amount to anything new, but it grabs the spotlight for a few days. “Man, we’ve been open all along!”

This goes back to our point we made early on when Android was announced. The first phones and software applications haven’t even rolled out and Google has already made things better for us here in the US.

Ok, readers, let’s hear it. Is AT&T already ‘open’ in the same sense as what we’ll see with Android?


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