Monday, September 23, 2013

Beware of the Nexus 7 and the Hush-a-Phone -- they may damage your network

I heard a rant by Jeff Jarvis on the This Week in Google podcast. It seems that he got a new Nexus 7 tablet and Verizon refused to add it to his LTE account because it had not yet been verified. He tested it with a SIM from a different device and it worked fine. He also pointed out that Google had advertised that it would work on the Verizon network and that the terms of Verizon's FCC license required open access to any compliant device.

(He has documented the story in this blog post).

Verizon said they had to certify the device -- have it tested to be sure it would not harm their network.

That reminded me of the Hush-a-Phone. In 1956, the courts overruled an FCC ban on Hush-a-Phone, rejecting AT&T's claim that it posed a risk to the network and would degrade call quality.

Here is a picture of the Hush-a-Phone -- you can decide how grave the risk was:

What if AT&T had prevailed in the Hush-a-Phone case and the subsequent case of the Carterphone, a device for patching radio calls into the telephone network? (Yeah, hams used to do that).

It seems that Verizon is unclear on the meaning of "open" -- they are still nostalgic about the good old days, when only the phone company could sell you things like phones, modems, DSL routers, answering machines, etc.