Cingular Wireless plans to launch a push-to-talk phone service which integrates walkie-talkie and cellular technology across its network. The service competes directly with Sprint Nextel Corp.’s own push-to-talk service available under the Nextel brand of phones. Like Nextel, Cingular will likely target business customers, although it has aspirations to push the service to consumers.
“Cingular is taking the walkie-talkie service that is so important to blue-collar workers and adding wireless features to make it just as valuable in the white-collar world,” Joe Lueckenhoff, vice president of business services for Cingular, said in a press release posted on Cingular’s Web site.
Cingular, jointly owned by AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp., will offer the unlimited push-to-talk minutes for $9.99 a month per line, or $19.99 for a family plan for up to five family members. The service will launch on two select handsets – the Samsung d357 and the LG F7200. Cingular will unveil the service on Monday.
The service allows one person to talk with one person or to a whole group. It also allows the call to be transferred to cellular from walkie-talkie if it lasts too long. Both the cellular and push-to-talk services will have the same number.
This is the latest feature that the wireless carriers have rolled out recently – Cingular launched a service allowing unlimited calls between its wireless phones and AT&T’s local calls. The services are seen as vital in remaining competitive, with more players entering the wireless business. In addition to the traditional wireless players, cable companies will launch their own service in a joint venture with Sprint, while mobile virtual network operators such as Virgin Mobile continue to gain popularity.
The service will be powered by Kodiak Networks.
“Kodiak’s PTT solution gives Cingular an answer to Sprint/Nextel’s push-to-talk offering,” said Ken Hyers, an analyst with ABI Research, in a research note. “They now have a product that enterprise and business customers will find useful.”
Hyers said Nextel’s service remains the benchmark, but the Cingular service should prove to be competitive.