In a recently published patent, Google describes a vision for an open wireless world, one in which mobile devices (and smartphones in particular) are no longer married to particular cellular service providers. When you buy a phone in the United States today, you typical have to sign a contract that prevents you from using that phone with more than one provider for a predetermined amount of time. You’ll encounter no such requirement when purchasing a laptop, which can be used to connect to the internet through any service provider at any time. The Google patent for “Flexible Communication Systems and Methods” contends that cellphone users should also have the freedom to connect through various networks and methods, and that the communication service they choose at any particular time and location should be determined by competitive market forces. The idea is that you could, for example, make phone calls and browse the internet on your smartphone via WiFi when at home, Verizon when downtown, and perhaps AT&T when out in the countryside. You’d base your decision on both pricing and quality of service, with the quality of coverage in your current location playing a major role.