Indian telecom service provider Tata Indicom on Thursday debuted a "push
to talk" service that uses Qualcomm's BREW software and handsets provided by
The companies said Kyocera's KX440 mobile phone is the first CDMA (Code
Division Multiple Access) push-to-talk handset available outside the United
States. The handset supports Qualcomm's Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless,
or BREW, which is used by about a dozen carriers to sell downloadable ring
tones, games or video mail programs. Qualcomm had announced the deal
with Tata in March.
The entry-level push-to-talk phone is well-suited to emerging wireless
markets in India, the companies said. India is one of fastest-growing wireless
markets in the world. Analysts have estimated that the wireless subscriber base
there will grow to more than 140 million customers by 2008. While Tata
and Reliance are the leading CDMA service providers, the Indian market is
dominated by the GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) standard.
Push-to-talk technology allows callers to connect to other cell phones with
just the push of a single button, similar to a walkie-talkie. Only one person
can talk at a time, and there is no need to dial a number.
Motorola and U.S. cell phone carrier Nextel Communications introduced the
technology about a decade ago. For about eight years, difficulties perfecting
such a service and the high price of push-to-talk handsets gave the two
companies an almost exclusive hold on the market.
But now "the button" is spreading globally--mostly because a carrier's cost
of adding the service has dropped with the introduction of alternative
push-to-talk technologies from Qualcomm, Kodiak Networks and other companies.
The price of handsets with the feature also have decreased.
For Kyocera, the Tata deal is part of its overall strategy to challenge
push-to-talk pioneer and market leader Motorola within a year, executives
"We can't even track our share yet; there's very little 'industry' outside of
Nextel" and Motorola, a Kyocera Wireless representative said. "Right now, our
share doesn't show up as a full-scale blip. But within a year, we will be
putting a lot of pressure on Motorola. That's the goal."
Tata initially ordered 300,000 push-to-talk phones, one of Kyocera's largest
orders yet for such a handset. Kyocera also supplies U.S. cell phone service
provider Alltel in the United States.
CNET News.com's Ben Charny contributed to this report.