AT&T brings PTT app to iPhone ahead of Sprint's iDEN shutdown

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) said it is bringing its Enhanced Push-to-Talk service to business customers through a new app available for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S. AT&T boasted that this will be the first time a U.S. carrier is offering push-to-talk capabilities on the iPhone, and the app's launch comes less than three weeks ahead of Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) planned shutdown of its Nextel iDEN network.

AT&T said the app will give iPhone users who use its Enhanced PTT service larger contact lists and talk groups than competing solutions, the ability to combine PTT services and mobile applications, tools that let supervisors communicate urgent messages to their workers and call setup in less than one second.

In addition to the app, AT&T said its Enhanced PTT service can now be used over Wi-Fi, including more than 32,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots. 

The app and the service in general by AT&T are meant to lure away Sprint's remaining iDEN customers.

Sprint said earlier this month that its last full day of iDEN service will be June 29. The network shutdown will begin June 30, and iDEN devices will cease receiving all data and voice services, including 911 emergency calling. Sprint said it will close switch locations "in rapid succession on June 30," after which equipment will be powered down and backhaul at each cell site will be eliminated.

Sprint has been working to migrate its iDEN users onto its CDMA network, where it offers an enhanced Direct Connect push-to-talk service developed by Sprint and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM). The carrier has started turning on CDMA voice on its 800 MHz spectrum, which was previously used for the iDEN network, and plans to deploy LTE on 800 MHz in the fourth quarter.

Sprint ended the first quarter with 1.31 million remaining Nextel customers. Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer said on the company's first-quarter earnings conference call in late April that Sprint's recapture rate in the second quarter for leaving Nextel postpaid subscribers would likely be in the range of 30-40 percent. Both he and Sprint CEO Dan Hesse noted that churn on the company's Sprint platform (its CDMA and LTE networks) may be impacted in the second quarter as Sprint platform customers who still have Nextel lines decide to leave Sprint altogether as the iDEN network is shut down. The executives said these are mainly large enterprise accounts, which make up the majority of remaining iDEN customers.

For more:
- see this release
- see this AT&T site
- see this PhoneScoop article

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