Telstra launches Push-To-Talk - What's New?
Telstra launches Push-To-Talk
24 June 2004
Written by Albert Malik
Following hot on the heels of their i-mode announcement, Telstra have announced the commercial launch of their Push To Talk (PTT) service. Telstra have been trialing PTT with business and government customers, and following positive feedback, have made the service available to all Telstra customers.
Push to Talk is a service that basically allows your phone to function as a two-way radio, or walkie-talkie style. You select the person or group of people you wish to contact, and then press and hold the talk button while speaking into the handset. As long as the people you are speaking to are also on Telstra and have a compatible handset, they will receive your message in realtime through the loudspeaker.
For now, Telstra will be targeting business and government users with the service, who are the ones who will benefit most from it, as a PTT phone would be able to replace a separate mobile phone and two-way radio. Despite this, it can still be useful for consumers in certain situations, such as for coordinating shopping trips or social night outs for example.
To be able to use PTT, you will need a compatible handset though. While Telstra currently only offer one handset, the rugged
Nokia 5140, they are hoping to have five PTT compatible handsets available by Christmas. They also hope to have the CDMA network PTT enabled later this year (it is currently only available on the GSM network through GPRS).
In any case the Nokia 5140 is now available in selected Telstra shops. There are two pricing plans, a Pay As You Go (PAYG) option for 1 cent per second to a single person, and 2 cents a second to two people or more; or a $50 per month unlimited usage scheme. PTT costs are not covered by monthly call allowances however.
As an introductory offer, Telstra are offering free PTT from launch until the end of September, but with a catch - 500 minutes worth of free PTT per month, with each consecutive second being charged at normal rates. After September, customers connecting to the PTT service receive a month’s free usage (again with the 500 minute limit).
So will PTT be successful? Well we need to see more handsets. The only GSM handset currently capable of PTT is the 5140, although Nokia have promised more PTT-capable handsets to come this year, and have stated that from 2005 onwards, all Nokia phones will be PTT-capable. Other vendors, such as Motorola, Siemens and Sony Ericsson are participating in the PTT standards process and all intend to market PTT capable phones. Secondly, we need to see all operators introducing PTT, and working out interoperability agreements right from the beginning, rather than years after the launch, such as was the case with MMS.
So just where are the rest of the carriers? Optus is known to be testing PTT, also with the Nokia 5140, and announced previously to have the service running by mid-year. Vodafone’s position on PTT is unknown, as is Hutchison’s, who runs the Orange and 3 networks.