The open network era officially begins for Verizon Wireless, as the company’s first choice for testing and certification of anyone’s CDMA devices, for customers to bring to the network at will, begins testing new equipment today.



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The first independent laboratory for the certification of wireless devices for enrollment by customers to Verizon Wireless’ CDMA network, is now officially online. As previously announced as early as November of last year, that lab will be run by Intertek, an established global testing and certification service headquartered in London.

Under VZW’s historic plan announced last November, the manufacturer of any handset that wishes to be able to use the VZW network may submit working prototypes to Intertek for testing and certification. All that Intertek will be testing is connectivity, and whether candidate handsets contain anything that may conceivably interfere with the network; beyond that, VZW does not care what operating system a candidate may contain, or what applications may be used. In fact, senior executives have suggested that the company encourage very specialized devices with unique applications be welcomed into the certification process.

Verizon won’t necessarily be selling these devices in its outlets or to its customers; it’s still up to each manufacturer to make the sale. However, it will be permitted to tout its certification for the VZW network once it’s received from Intertek.

VZW’s statement this morning made it clear that Intertek may be the first of several third-party labs, and that the relationship between the two companies is not exclusive; a quote from Intertek’s VP of operations, David Dennis, characterized his company as “the first testing laboratory approved under the Verizon Wireless Open Development Initiative.”

That said, Intertek’s not a small operation by any measure. In the first half of this year, it racked up revenue of £457.4 million ($783.7 million at current exchange rates), an increase of 28.6% annually, with profit before taxes of £62.9 million. It lists its corporate founder as none other than Thomas A. Edison in 1896, through the founding of a department called the Lamp Testing Bureau within the company that would become GE. The Bureau then became the independent Electrical Testing Laboratories, which has since been absorbed by Intertek.

Developers of even the most limited set of handsets, even if they produce fewer than 100, won’t need to ship prototypes halfway around the world. Intertek maintains over 1,000 laboratories in 110 countries, including throughout Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America.