updated 09:15 am EDT, Fri October 31, 2008
Verizon Axed Storm Wi-Fi
Verizon's edition of the BlackBerry Storm was intentionally stripped of 3G and Wi-Fi features, according to a claim by "top-level" sources for BGR. Although it would have technically been possible to include tri-band HSPA 3G to allow true world roaming, the American carrier has reportedly had all HSPA frequency support pulled save for its partner Vodafone's 2,100MHz band to discourage buyers from unlocking the phone and using it with AT&T or other carriers.
The move wouldn't preclude unlocking the device altogether but would limit it to EDGE-based 2G data as well as GSM calls; AT&T and many other carriers support this, but networks and whole countries where 3G is the only option for calling, such as Japan, are locked out by the move.
Additionally, Verizon has reportedly also insisted on the absence of Wi-Fi, though the reasons behind the move are less clear. Removing short-range wireless puts greater dependence on Verizon's EVDO Revision A network but also lets the carrier minimize the use of apps that might let customers use simpler cellular plans or avoid the VCAST online store, such as VoIP or music store clients.
If accurate, the limitation underscores concerns by critics that providers are unnecessarily limiting the potential of phones to resist a move towards open networks and platforms, where they see reduced opportunities to collect extra revenue. Other US carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile have typically been more open and allowed at least some carrier-specific devices with extra network support, such as the tri-band 3G and Wi-Fi of the BlackBerry Bold and iPhone 3G. The T-Mobile G1 includes Wi-Fi and is notable for using the open-source Android OS, which allows for VoIP and other features that some carriers normally block.