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Cingular Launches Push-To-Talk

Cingular Wireless announced that it is rolling out a push-to-talk (PTT) service. The service, costing $9.99 per month for unlimited PTT minutes, or $19.99 a month for family plans, will dramatically expand the potential number of customers able to use PTT. Cingular's PTT service will initially launch with two phones, the Samsung D-357 and LG's F7200. Cingular will be using PTT from Kodiak Networks, the same company that powers Orange's PTT solution in Europe, Alltel's in the United States, and the soon-to-launch AMP'd MVNO in the US.

Cingular's PTT will potentially compete head-to-head with Sprint Nextel's PTT solution for some segments of the business market. While Sprint Nextel's iDEN based PTT technology is considered the benchmark for PTT in terms of call setup time and low latency, Kodiak's technology has proved to be a competitive solution.

"Kodiak's PTT solution gives Cingular an answer to Sprint/Nextel's push-to-talk offering," comments ABI Research principal analyst of global wireless operator research, Ken Hyers. "They now have a product that enterprise and business customers will find useful."

Cingular's PTT will also likely be very popular in the fast growing "family-plans" segment where multiple phones are added to a single account and share minutes between family members. By adding unlimited PTT to these plans, families will have the ability to quickly connect multiple members for conference calls. The "presence" capability of Kodiak's solution also means that callers will be able to check availability quickly before calling.

PTT on Cingular's network creates a competitive environment in which three out of four of the United States' Tier I mobile network operators now offer a solution for customers that wish to have a instant-chat and conference solution. An advantage of the solution that Cingular has chosen is that it is supported by a number of handset manufacturers, giving Cingular, and potentially their customers, a breadth of handsets to choose from. This is a market ripe for growth in the US, and expansion outside of the business segment into consumers' hands.

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