Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) will launch its upgraded CDMA push-to-talk (PTT) service, Direct Connect, on Sunday, one of the key steps in its Network Vision network modernization plan.
The carrier, which first announced the new service in March, said that Direct Connect will offer enhanced services, including CDMA data, for Sprint's push-to-talk customers. The action is part of Sprint's plans to eventually move users off its aging iDEN network and onto its CDMA network. Sprint plans to eventually begin shutting down PTT service on its iDEN network and will refarm is 800 MHz iDEN spectrum for advanced voice services as well as possibly LTE service.
Sprint said the new Direct Connect service will offer improved in-building coverage and will triple the square-mile reach of its current iDEN-based PTT service. Specifically, Sprint said its new PTT offering will cover 2.7 million square miles and a population of 309 million (with the addition of 1XRTT and roaming coverage), up from the iDEN network's 908,370 square miles covering a population 278 million. The new service will ride on Sprint's 1900 MHz spectrum; Sprint's iDEN network runs on the carrier's 800 MHz spectrum.
Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) is the vendor for the new PTT solution, which is an upgrade over the existing QChat technology that Sprint deployed a few years ago using its CDMA network.
In 2012, Sprint plans expand the Direct Connect PTT coverage area to match the Sprint CDMA voice coverage area. Additionally, Sprint said international PTT calling to select countries will also become available next year.
Sprint said the first phone compatible with the new service will be the Kyocera DuraMax, which will sell for $69.99 with a two-year contract and after a $50 mail-in rebate. Sprint also plans to launch to more Direct Connect phones in the fourth quarter, including another Kyocera phone as well as an Android PTT phone from Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI).
- see this release
- see this CNET article
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