Nokia goes it alone on push-to-talk

Technical standards punch-up looming

An interoperability battle is looming within the mobile phone industry over technical standards for walkie-talkie-like technology. The dispute over push-to-talk (PTT) technology has emerged in the run up to the CeBIT 2004.

Ericsson, Motorola, and Siemens have all announced the first joint interoperability tests for push-to-talk technology. It is hoped that the tests will provide network operators with an easy integration, interoperability and a competitive environment in which to deploy commercial PTT services.

Meanwhile, Finnish mobile giant Nokia has said that its own new PTT infrastructure solution would in fact also enable operators to use manufacturers' push-to-talk terminals.

Instead of dialling a number to start a conversation, PTT users select someone from their buddy list, push a button on the handset and speak, in order for their voice to be instantly heard by the recipient. Like a walkie-talkie, push-to-talk is uni-directional, so callers cannot talk over each other and must wait for their turn to speak. The technology is already being used in the US, mainly by Nextel.

The first specification for PTT, called Push-to-talk over Cellular (PoC) Phase One, was developed by wireless industry players to ensure an interoperable standard mobile networks that will help drive rapid uptake of PTT.

The specification also allows for a standard network software upgrade path to the upcoming Open Mobile Alliance standard for the technology. Ericsson, Motorola, Siemens and Sony Ericsson are promoting a final version of the PoC standard through the OMA.

For network operators, PTT enhances telephone service and may potentially provide mobile operators with new sources of revenue from existing infrastructure at a relatively low risk.

Siemens is to show its first PTT-enabled phone at this week's CeBIT. Nokia's 5140 will be commercially available during the second quarter of this year and is to feature includes a digital compass, flashlight, radio and a built-in VGA camera.

© ENN

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