Sprint To Roll Out CDMA Push-To-Talk Service

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Overland Park, Kan. - Sprint plans a fourth-quarter launch of its next-generation push-to-talk (PTT) service over its CDMA network.

 The service, to be branded Sprint Direct Connect, promises multiple advantages over the carrier's current iDEN-network PTT service, including broader coverage and better in-building penetration.

 The carrier previously announced plans to phase out its bandwidth-constricted iDEN network beginning 2013 as part of its Network Vision initiative, designed to consolidate the carrier's separate 800MHz iDEN and 1.9GHz CDMA networks into one network. The base stations in the new network would use iDEN and CDMA technologies, and possibly Mobile WiMAX and LTE, to enhance coverage and speed and reduce operating costs, the company has said.

The new PTT service will deliver iDEN-like sub-second call setup time in Sprint CDMA Rev. A coverage areas and will expand that performance to additional areas as Network Vision improvements are made, the company said.

 Sprint Direct Connect will launch with ruggedized handsets from Motorola Mobility and Kyocera, all featuring PTT capabilities as well as high-speed data, high-resolution cameras, Bluetooth and PTT interoperability with all existing Sprint PTT devices.  The handsets will include a rugged camera flip phone and an Android smartphone with touchscreen and QWERTY keyboard.  In 2012, Sprint said it expects to expand its PTT handset selection.

 Sprint expects its CDMA PTT devices to enable group PTT for up to 200 participants, Land Mobile Radio (LMR) interoperability, and availability notification. In early 2012, the company expects to add more capabilities, including international PTT.

With the rollout of the new CDMA PTT service, the PTT coverage footprint will increase to almost 2.7 million square miles to cover a population of 309 million, in part through CDMA 1xrtt and roaming coverage. That's up from the iDEN network's 908,370-square-mile footprint covering a population of 278 million.

 As Sprint's PTT customer base shifts to more broadband-centric CDMA-based PTT, the carrier expects to phase out iDEN cell sites beginning in 2013.

Sprint is not new to CDMA-based PTT. In 2008,

the company launched Qualcomm's QChat PTT technology

on CDMA Rev. A phones but stopped marketing it the following year. The decision was made in part because the carrier at the time decided not to sell off the iDEN network but to hold onto it for awhile longer. In addition, the technology suffered from poor in-building coverage because it operated only in the 1.9GHz band, whereas the iDEN-network PTT operated in the 800MHz band, the company has said.


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