Push-To-Talk Fever

Just when you thought that the wireless industry was overly obsessed with data, push-to-talk (PTT) emerges as the hot voice app. The PTT fight will start in the US with Sprint and Verizon jumping in first. PTT will then go international very quickly with a handful of start ups already pushing PTT solutions to GSM/GPRS carriers. Big boys Nokia, Ericsson, and Siemens have just partnered to create an open standard for PTT over GPRS. Everyone hopes that PTT can help them achieve Nextel-like ARPUs. But as Andrew Seybold points out bolting on PTT to existing networks won’t necessarily provide the same service level as Nextel’s system. So should Nextel be worried? Yes and no. While all this new competition will decrease the the value of PTT as a differentiator, it will take a lot of work for other US carriers to offer a PTT service robust enough to lure away Nextel’s high ARPU business customers that rely on PTT. But the new PTT competition will make it harder for Nextel to use PTT to help them increase their share of the consumer market. On a global level we could see PTT becoming a standard network feature like SMS and MMS with global interoperability.

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