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Sprint Expands Improved PTT Service

Overland Park, Kan. — Sprint plans on June 15 to expand commercial availability of Qualcomm’s QChat push-to-talk (PTT) technology to almost 50 markets following the launch of service earlier this year in Kansas and Missouri.

The carrier will also expand its selection of QChat-enabled phones to four from two.

QChat accelerates PTT call-setup times to less than a second in CDMA 1x EV-DO Rev. A networks. Sprint brands its PTT service as Nextel Direct Connect and stresses that its CDMA-network QChat phones establish PTT communications with its iDEN-network phones.

On June 15, distribution of two existing PTT phones from Sanyo — the PRO-200 and PRO-700 — will expand to all QChat markets from the Kansas and Missouri launch markets. Also on June 15, Sprint will make available an LG LX400 and Samsung Z400 available with QChat capability.

All four phones will be available through Sprint-owned retail stores, direct sales and telesales in all QChat markets. Availability to the indirect channel hasn’t been announced. Until now, the two current Sanyo phones were available only through Sprint’s direct channels to businesses in Kansas and Missouri, a spokeswoman noted.

The LG LX400 features 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth and GPS at $79.99 with two-year service agreement and $50 mail-in rebate. The ruggedized Samsung Z400 clamshell is certified to military specification 810F for dust, shock and vibration. It features 1.3-megapixel camera, Sprint Navigation and Bluetooth at $99.99 with a two-year service agreement and $50 mail-in rebate.

The Sanyo PRO-200 clamshell features Bluetooth, messaging capabilities, and mobile email at $49.99 with a two-year service agreement and $50 mail-in rebate. The ruggedized 700 is also certified to military standards for dust, shock and vibration and is available for $79.99 with a two-year service agreement and $50 mail-in rebate.

The QChat-enabled PTT phones and service will be available in the following markets on June 15:

Atlanta-Athens; Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Boston; Chicago; Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; Colorado, northern and southern Connecticut; Dallas-Fort Worth; Delaware; southwest Florida; Hawaii; Houston; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Fla.; Kansas; Las Vegas; Long Island, N.Y.; Los Angeles; Memphis; Miami-West Palm Beach; Milwaukee; central, northern and southern New Jersey; New York City; Oregon; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Providence, R.I.; Richmond, Va.; Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.; San Antonio; San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area and South Bay, Calif.; Tampa; Washington D.C.; southwest and western Washington; and Winston-Salem, N.C.

The vast majority of Sprint’s mobile broadband network has been upgraded to EV-DO Rev. A technology, which accelerates peak download data rates increase to 3.1Mbps, with peak uplink data rates increasing to 1.8 Mbps. Average downlink throughput increases to 600kbps to 1.4Mbps from EV-DO’s average 400kbps to 700kbps. Rev. A uplink speeds increase to 350kbps to 500 kbps from EV-DO’s 50kbps to 70kbps.

About 12 Rev. A handsets will be available from Sprint by year’s end, the carrier said earlier this year. The first was the HTC Mogul Windows Mobile PDA phone, which got a downloadable Rev. A upgrade in March. The touchscreen-equipped Instinct multimedia phone, due in June, will also be Rev. A.

In another announcement, the carrier said it plans a June 15 expansion of its simplified pricing plan program, which started as a $99/month plan incorporating unlimited voice and data. Under the expanded program, new share plans for families include unlimited messaging and data at one low price on top of various voice plans.