Push-to-talk services to hit Australia

Push-to-talk (PTT) mobile services are expected to be released in Australia this year according to the IT marketing advisory firm IDC, following the success of the walkie-talkie-like device in overseas markets.The device enables one-to-one and one-to-many voice communication services via GSM/GPRS networks, allowing customers to speak instantaneously to groups or selected individuals by way of a button located on the side of the handset.

Push-to-talk (PTT) mobile services are expected to be released in Australia this year according to the IT marketing advisory firm IDC, following the success of the walkie-talkie-like device in overseas markets.

The device enables one-to-one and one-to-many voice communication services via GSM/GPRS networks, allowing customers to speak instantaneously to groups or selected individuals by way of a button located on the side of the handset.

Nokia has been chosen by the major Australian telecommunications companies to supply the push-to-talk over cellular (PoC) handsets, using the Nokia 5140 that was unveiled in New York last November.

The device is reportedly being tested by both Telstra and Optus, who both expect to unveil a PTT service by mid 2004.

Optus says the service has great potential, particularly for small business customers, as it enables multi-receiver transmissions.

"Because of its instantaneous nature and the ability to talk from one to many we think there will be great value for small business customers," said an Optus spokesperson, adding an example of its use could be at a construction site where a worker can communicate with their entire team simultaneously, regardless of location.

Warren Chaisatien, IDC Australia's senior analyst for mobile and wireless solutions, describes the new mobile service as a "refreshing oasis" that will revitalise the portfolio of Australian wireless carriers.

He predicts the technology could be the "killer app" mobile operators have been searching for to help staunch their sliding ARPU (average revenue per user) and address turnover issues. Chaisatien further explained that as PTT was a 'packetised' voice application service, it would complement the other IP-based solutions employed by Australian service providers.

IDC says that PTT services should be offered as an add-on service to regular mobile phone plans at an unlimited basis. However, Optus refused to disclose any information on pricing schemes. The sports-inspired Nokia handset includes features such as a digital compass, Fitness Coach application and built-in VGA camera. Nokia say that from 2005 onwards the push-to-talk function will become available for all Nokia GPRS/WCDMA phones.

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