Sprint Offers Walkie-Talkie Style Service

With Ready Link, Sprint becomes the third major carrier to offer a push-to-talk service.

LAS VEGAS—Sprint PCS Group on Monday will announce a walkie-talkie type service for its wireless phone customers.

Like other push-to-talk services, Sprint Ready Link lets customers talk to each other with the touch (and holding down) of a button. Customers can talk one-on-one or with up to five other people simultaneously.

Ready Link costs $15 per month for unlimited use, on top of customers existing voice service plans of $35 or more. For $20 on top of their existing voice plans, customers get both unlimited Ready Link and PCS Vision data access. A Ready Link call doesnt count against regular voice service plan minutes.

Sprint is announcing two new phones that support the service, both manufactured by Sanyo. The PCS Vision Ready Link Phone RL2000 is a ruggedized phone with rubber bumpers on the casing, and the RL2500 is a compact flip phone. Both phones have color screens and built-in speakerphones. Each has a list price of $299.99, or $149.99 with a two-year service plan. A Ready Link Phone with a built-in camera is due by the end of the year, said officials at Sprint in Overland Park, Kansas.

Sprint is the third major carrier to offer a push-to-talk service. Verizon Wireless Inc. introduced such a service in August. Up until then, Nextel Communications Inc. had been offering its hallmark Direct Connect push-to-talk service for years without competition, but Nextel didnt offer full nationwide service until July of this year.

Carriers are in talks with various standards bodies to promote interoperability among different services, but Sprint officials said it likely will be at least a year before such a standard emerges.