By the end of 2008, Verizon Wireless will open their network to any device which meets a "minimum technical standard." What that standard is, exactly, VZW isn't saying yet -- that will come in "early 2008." So any device (including applications) tested and certified in VZW's new $20 Million test lab is fair game for use on their wireless network. In other words, Verizon becomes the data pipe, and nothing more for these new "bring-your-own" customers. It's too early to say if this is a watershed moment or not. Verizon certainly thinks so with Lowell McAdam, Verizon Wireless president and chief executive officer, calling it, "a transformation point in the 20-year history of mass market wireless devices." As usual, the devil (certification fees, turnaround times for testing, those magical minimum technical standards, etc.) might be in the details.
P.S. In case you're wondering, Verizon is currently not a member of Android's Open Handset Alliance.
Update: More from Verizon on this. Dick Lynch, Verizon's CTO says, "If someone has the technical capability of building something in their basement on a breadboard ... have at it," which should quickly open the market to small-scale device companies. Also of note, only CDMA devices will be supported (naturally) and pricing should be "competitive."