Will PTT experience a resurgence in 2008?


Will PTT experience a resurgence in 2008?

Push to talk was quite a hot topic a few years ago when new vendors such as Kodiak Networks and Sonim Technologies emerged on the scene with promising technologies that wireless operators hoped would make them competitive with Nextel's highly specialized iDEN push-to-talk service. I remember writing lots of stories about these new technologies and how they offered non-iDEN operators the opportunity to lure away some of Nextel's high-ARPU PTT customers.

Some operators have deployed these technologies (AT&T and Alltel both use Kodiak Networks' PTT technology), but few have been as successful as Nextel in penetrating the highly desirable enterprise market. In fact, most operators have marketed their PTT services to consumers instead of infiltrating the different enterprise verticals such as public safety and construction workers where iDEN has had so much success.

Sprint is currently planning on deploying Qualcomm's QChat technology in first quarter 2008. The carrier will market QChat under the old iDEN Direct Connect brand and the company hopes to be able to transition existing iDEN customers to QChat as well as appeal to new customers by offering more handsets and more applications.

I wonder if some of the new applications that Sprint will be offering on QChat will help revitalize the PTT market. At the FierceMarkets Wireless Voice 2007 event in San Francisco earlier this week, Greg Young, vice president, engineering and product management for Qualcomm's QChat division talked about one QChat initiative, called Yagatta, which is an advanced version of push to talk that includes simultaneous voice and data sessions. Yagatta would allow push to talk to be incorporated with other services such as social networking, user-generated content, chat rooms, video text messaging and more.

Young wouldn't say whether Sprint would be launching Yagatta's advanced applications when it launches QChat next year, however during Sprint's third quarter earnings call, executives said that QChat would make new services available that were not currently available on iDEN. I suspect that some of these new applications will marry PTT voice with data services. Perhaps this next-generation of PTT will revitalize the age-old service and spark more competition among operators. -Sue