Open Cellphone Networks?

Well, baby steps, maybe. There’s still a long way to go: Applications Spur Carriers to Relax Grip on Cellphones

Consumers have long been frustrated with how much control carriers — AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and the like — have exerted over what they could download to their mobile phones. But in the last nine months, carriers, software developers and cellphone makers have embraced a new attitude of openness toward consumers.

[…] But the pressure on AT&T is also coming from another direction: Apple, its iPhone partner. AT&T has no control over the applications downloaded to the iPhones, which AT&T offers exclusively. But the proliferation of new applications and the realization that they only make cellphones more popular has convinced executives there that they need to give consumers more freedom.

The industry, of course, has selfish reasons for promoting openness. Applications spur the use of higher-priced wireless data plans and the purchase of more expensive smartphones. “What is most important for us is to have a customer sign up for a plan,” said Ralph de la Vega, who is in charge of AT&T’s wireless unit. “We think we can have multiple ways to make money.”