PTT By the Minute?!? - InformationWeek

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Commentary
1/31/2007
07:49 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
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PTT By the Minute?!?

Correct me if I am wrong here, but wasn't the major premise of push-to-talk technology (PTT) that it would help save people (enterprises) money by allowing them to avoid using their monthly minute allotment because they were using the walkie-talkie instead? If so, AT&T's new plan to allow customers to use PTT on a per-minute basis negates the entire appeal. Sorry, but if I have to pay by the minute to use the PTT s

Correct me if I am wrong here, but wasn't the major premise of push-to-talk technology (PTT) that it would help save people (enterprises) money by allowing them to avoid using their monthly minute allotment because they were using the walkie-talkie instead? If so, AT&T's new plan to allow customers to use PTT on a per-minute basis negates the entire appeal.

Sorry, but if I have to pay by the minute to use the PTT service on my BlackBerry, it just ain't gonna happen. Granted, AT&T's proposed fee of $0.15 per minute is far lower than typical minute overage fees, which fall in the $0.45 to $0.55 range, but still. It just seems counterintuitive to me. Why use a walkie-talkie if you're going to be charged by the minute?I think this entire idea is a tactic to increase adoption of PTT usage on the Cingular / AT&T network (I can't call it AT&T just yet). You see, I'd bet no one is using it. At least not in a way that justifies Cingular's investment in the technology. So they figure, aha, get people to use the silly little button, figure out how the service works and then, wham-o, they'll subscribe to the PTT plan. Brilliant! Or not.

The technology behind Cingular's PTT service differs from Sprint Nextel's. Where Sprint Nextel leverages the old iDEN network, Cingular usees a third party software solution from companies like Kodiak. Sprint Nextel's was far superior for a long time, with much lower latency. The delay in coversations in the initial Cingular (and Verizon Wireless, for that matter) PTT services was noticeable and hampered adoption. They and their partners have corrected those issues for the most part and the services are not on par with that offered by Sprint Nextel, at least in terms of raw performance.

I think the real problem here is image and business case related. There is a very field force, blue collar image associated with those chunky Sprint Nextel iDEN phones and the guys who use them. The reason they were so popular among the field force set is because guys on a construction site need to contact one another all the time. Using minutes to make 100 phone calls a day to the guy up on the scaffolding was not cost effective. So their employers subscribed to the PTT service and the workers were then able to make as many "calls" to their coworkers without eating into their minute plans.

People who are sophisticated enough to use a BlackBerry or other advanced feature phone probably have the budget to run up their minutes.

Hear Me Now, Cingular! I reprogrammed my BlackBerry so the dedicated PTT button accesses another function on the phone. I betcha many others did as well. Sorry, I'll stick to my minutes.

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