Verizon Open Development Summary.

Overall Summary / Opinion

An important first step in meeting the competitive disadvantage VZW faces compared to the GSM operators.  A device centric ODIS (Open Device Interface Specification) defines what a device must do to interface to the VZ RAN (between the device radio hardware and the access network), and the support structure to help partners (device manufacturers, MVNOs, M2M service providers or other service providers) through the process.  Commercial models range from retail through to wholesale.  The retail model is a little perplexing; difficult to see what beyond niche business focused applications could work.  Why would Nintendo build a VZW specific DS given the small addressable market?  However, for enterprise M2M with its higher margins there could be a case for a limited run of devices.  Wholesale is an important step beyond what VZW does today in potentially removing or softening the application test requirements.  However, in between the retail and wholesale models, the “custom” model, there could be a rich seam of commercial models and opportunities for monetize assets such as billing, customer support and distribution.

The issues of exposing capabilities such as location, presence, messaging, content, FiOS, etc. were not covered in this conference.  They are in the plan, John Stratton is leading that across all Verizon, I saw him walking about at lunch.  This will become part of the open development process.

Summary of Sessions

Opening by Tony Lewis, VP Open Development.  An extrovert, unusual for VZ 🙂

Opening Remarks, Ivan Seidenberg CEO.  VZW messaging of the most reliable network.  LTE trial end of this year focused on speed and global compatibility – finally I’ll be able to roam with Verizon.

Open Development Overview, Tony Lewis, VP Open Development.  Focus of the initiative is on new, non-traditional M2M devices.  All the device must do is meet VZW’s minimum technical standard (see later) and the customer will have online support (billing, device ping).  The plan is to have a network only service option available in the second half of this year, likely by the end of the year.  Breaking out of the brew model, any application on the device, spec will only cover interface to the RAN, middleware, OS and applications are up to the Partner.  No equipment contracts or early termination fees.  Supported by a partnership management office that is focused upon helping partners they their devices through the process and working on the commercial arrangements.

Commercial Models, Mike Lanman CMO.  Three models, retail, wholesale and custom.

  • Retail model is where the partner (device supplier) makes money on the device and Verizon bills for the service the customer selects.  Device provider is responsible for marketing and distribution.  Customer service and billing will be all online.  Voice and data package options are likely to be similar to existing retail packages, though ‘unlimited’ 5GB package not likely, more likely a top package of 2GB with overage charges.  Will include have nationwide plans, data bundles, data only packages, and pay as you go.  Pricing is still in development and is likely to done initially on a case-by-case basis until VZW finds its feet.  Can leverage VZW’s roaming relationships.
    • Opinion: In essence a customer buys a device that is tied to VZW, selects a VZW package, and received a service less than buying direct from VZW.  Retail model is likely to be used for niche applications, where device manufacturer is prepared to build for a VZW only market, likely enterprise M2M, I can not see Nintendo building a VZW specific version of its DS for a potential market of 2 million.  Also customers will need education as they’re paying VZW for a service but not getting the VZW experience.
  • Wholesale is more interesting as the requirements on application testing that exist today are lessened, maybe even removed.  Also enables innovative pricing models of bundling data connectivity into the fixed upfront price for the device, or annual fees, or advertising supported, or absorbed into some other customer charge.

Activation and Self Service, Ajay Waghray, CIO.  Partner provides ESNs (Electronic Serial Number) of certified devices to VZW.  As VZW has certified the device they know the capabilities and how to activate, from simply turning the device on for the first time to possibly keyboard actions by the user.

Device Specification and Certification, Tony Melone, CTO & team (Ro Garavaglia + David McCarley).

Spec covering CDMA2000, EVDO and in time LTE.  Voice only, data only, voice and data specifications.

ODIS (Open Device Interface Specification) Voice spec covers 3GPP2 emergency services, CDG90, 3GPP2 MEID, VZW OTA, and some VZW specific requirements.  Data spec covers 3GPP2 MEID, CDG 148, CDG 143, RFC 2486, VZW OTA and some specific VZW requirements.  Specs will be updated on a 6 monthly cycle, Q1 and Q3.

Network platforms (location, messaging, voicemail, content, etc.) – to be defined.  VZW will expose location outside the brew model, but no schedule or interface spec exists today – though we’ll likely see something before the end of the year.

3 phase certification process (will have both VZW cert centre – not a profit centre) and 3rd part certification.

  • Pre-submission – paperwork, NDAs, etc.
  • Certification – 4 weeks (target) covering RF parameter testing (1 week), signaling conformance and features (2 weeks), ODI certification (1 week).  All radio interfaces will be turned on.  Certification will be good for 36 months.
  • Post-certification – vendor interop (CDG57), field testing (CDG64)

Opinion: Likely takes a 9-18 month process down to 3 months.

Also in attendance Lowel and John Stratton who I saw walking around at lunch.  So full executive support at this event.  VZW consider this initiative core to their future success, equal to their focus on building their network and building their brand.

Findings over lunch conversations.  The ODI will be integrated with a similar initiative from the fixed side (FiOS) and across their application developer program.  Billing models are not yet defined, very much open to discussion with partners.  There is an opportunity for a device vendor to create an open platform (device and OS) and let other providers put their services on top deliver their branded phones, e.g. Skype Phone, Global Crossing Phone, BT Phone, etc.  Where depending upon the deal they cut with VZW they could target segments, such as international roamers.