Verizon to Unlock GPS for Select Windows Mobile Handsets

While a recent unofficial firmware update (4.5.0.97) for the Blackberry Pearl and Curve reportedly unlocked GPS capabilities for Verizon Wireless subscribers, many wondered if this was simply an oversight, on the part of the notoriously protective carrier, or part of a potential strategy to loosen their control of access to third-party applications and services.

With the December 16th announcement by the carrier that it will soon offer the ability to unlock the GPS on select Windows Mobile devices, it seems that there is now a clear strategy to gradually open access to third-party applications and services.

The first handsets on the network to be GPS unlocked are the Samsung Omnia and Saga and the HTC Touch Pro with firmware updates for each device to be released in the first half of 2009.

Though Verizon currently offers several GPS-enabled Windows Mobile smartphones, functionality has been limited to Verizon’s proprietary location services, such as their VZ Navigator service ($9.99/mo).

Verizon confirmed this in e-mail sent to subscribers that have requested for them to open up GPS features in capable phones, the full text of which is below:

Verizon Wireless, like all carriers, orders devices to meet certain specifications inclusive of features. Each of these specs is tested to determine if it meets our performance goals. There are instances when the phone will pass our extensive testing process but a specific feature may not meet the standard. We will often choose to introduce the phone without that feature but ask that the manufacturer come back to us with revised software that has to be tested to make sure the service works the same across our entire wireless footprint –from Maine to Hawaii. In the case of open standalone GPS, we are partnering with the Windows Mobile device manufacturers to provide a software upgrade that will add this capability to the existing assisted GPS capability. This is a complex development project to provide open standalone GPS while maintaining the assisted GPS capability with the level of performance and security that our customers expect. The recently introduced Windows Mobile devices including Omnia, Saga, and Touch Pro are targeted to add open standalone GPS in the 1st half of 2009.

Steve Schwed
Verizon Wireless
HQ Executive Relations Supervisor

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One Response to “Verizon to Unlock GPS for Select Windows Mobile Handsets”

  1. irritated
    October 11, 2009 at 12:33 pm #

    Great… One monopoly teams up with another worthless monopoly. I paid for a blackberry with built in GPS and money hungry verizon won’t let me use it. Now they’re going to try to ease my pain by offering unlocked GPS but only with a windows phone. Let me guess I’m going to have to download it with internet explorer… oh wait the federal government already shut that racket down. Can’t wait till the demise of verizon’s stranglehold. Come on FCC… haven’t seen enough complaints yet. So in the end I must take matters into my own hand. Sprint here I come. Thanks to a convenient roaming agreement I’ll still be using verizon’s towers but they won’t be getting a penny of my money directly from me. I hope every blackberry user joins the revolt against tyranny.

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