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Verizon Plans Over-Air Firmware Upgrades

Basking Ridge, N.J. — Verizon Wireless will introduce its first phones later this year with the ability to download firmware upgrades over the air to fix bugs, add new features or  add support for new network features.

Only about 10 percent of cellular handsets offer this capability, called firmware over the air (FOTA), beginning only two to three years ago, consulting company Accenture previously told TWICE. InnoPath Software, the company providing FOTA to Verizon, said carriers AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile also offer select FOTA handsets.

With FOTA, Verizon will proactively alert customers via SMS to upgrade their system software “before issues are apparent” without having to visit a store. Customers will be periodically notified to download the updated software by following on-screen prompts that will guide them through the process in a matter of minutes.

Stanley Zadrozny, Verizon’s network technology development executive director, said the technology will “help many customers avoid software or firmware problems that can occur and also avoid a trip to a communications store to get the fix manually installed by a technician. It’s a time- and trouble-saver for customers,” he said.

FOTA, however, won’t fix all potential software bugs in a phone, Accenture told TWICE.