Cingular Wireless is set to announce the rollout of a push-to-talk service that goes beyond the capabilities of a traditional walkie-talkie.
Launching Monday, the service will include a “convert to cellular” feature that allows a push-to-talk call to be converted into a regular voice call, allowing groups of participants to be converted into a regular conference call.
It also includes icons that let customers see if other push-to-talk customers are available before trying to reach them. Customers also can set up quick group calls, calling up to 20 people at once.
The service also includes call waiting that works whether a customer is on a PTT or regular cell phone call. It will compete most directly against the walkie-talkie service offered by Sprint Nextel.
Cingulars PTT service is based on technology from Kodiak Networks, the same company that will power the service from AMPd, a new mobile virtual network operator in the United States.
Cingulars PTT service will cost costing $9.99 per month for unlimited PTT minutes, or $19.99 a month for a family plan that gives up to five family members unlimited access to the PTT service. Business customers can add a PTT service option to each line of cellular service for an additional $9.99.
The service initially will be available on two phones, the Samsung D-357 and LGs F7200, but will be available on other phones in the near future, said Cingular officials in Bedminster, N.J.
Initially the service will run only in the United States, but international PTT will be available in 2006, Cingular officials said.