AT&T; claims to have most ‘open’ network

USA Today is running an article today entitled “AT&T flings cellphone network wide open”–even though the carrier has made no policy change about the openness of its network. AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega told USA Today that “you can use any handset on our network you want. We don’t prohibit it, or even police it.”

Of course, what de la Vega means is that consumers can use nearly any GSM handset on the AT&T network if they have a SIM card from the carrier–which is hardly “any handset” one may want. It is, however, similar to Verizon Wireless’ recent announcement that it would be opening up its network to “any apps” and “any devices,” but in Verizon Wireless’ case, the phones must run on its CDMA network and pass some as yet undisclosed technical requirements.

The USA Today article explains that AT&T has simply been keeping quiet for years that wireless customers had the option of using devices and applications other than those offered by the carrier. AT&T said that now salespeople in their stores will make sure that consumers ‘know all their options’ before subscribing.

So, this is good news, right? Well, it’s not really news at all. There’s been no policy shift at AT&T and the company patting themselves on the back for the ‘openness’ of their GSM network is a bit of a farce; the interoperability of SIM-enabled devices is a core component of the GSM standard and has nothing to do with AT&T–or T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange or any other GSM carrier for that matter. And regardless of GSM’s openness, AT&T’s most desirable handsets–including the iPhone and the Tilt–remain artificially locked to the carrier via software. Thanks for playing AT&T, better luck next time. 

For more on the article:
read it over at USA Today

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This is a really bad joke. AT&T has a process to screen and certify phones and other stuff before they will give you a SIM card. In fact they may just say “no, we won’t test it” and you are SOL. They are real Nazis about what goes on their network. Technically GSM is an “open” network because you can swap SIM cards around from devices but if you walk into an AT&T store with an unlocked phone that they don’t carry you have to hope that the sales clerk is not paying attention because you won’t be able to get service. This announcement is probably just a “me too” because their biggest competitor got the jump on them.

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