CeBIT: Unless Vendors Work Together, Push-to-Talk is Dead in the Water

Push to Talk Over Cellular (PoC) has exciting implications for phone and network providers: the technology allows subscribers to send a voice message to someone in their address book. The message travels over the network’s data service, so doesn’t require real-time processing and is obviously not interactive – it’s a bit like a walkie-talkie.

Network providers are already enthusiastic about the new services they will be able to create around this service – and the new revenue streams it will bring them. However, there is already some disagreement over what standards will be adopted and how network providers will exchange PoC messages between networks.

Herman Weiffenbach, vice president of Motorola highlights the problem in CeBIT News: “We now have eight launches in prospect, with 18 active trials under way, 12 of which are in Europe. We also expect a further 16 in the first half of the year. It is all looking very promising, but without standardisation, it won’t fly.”

One of the things that will kill PoC for sure if it’s not sorted out quickly is the current lack of cross-network service. For the time being, you can only use PoC services with recipients on your own network. Nokia, Sony, Ericsson, Motorola and Siemens signed an agreement to enable cross-vendor operability, but this seems to be all they’ve done – there’s been no progress since.

One of the great things about standards is that there’s just so many to choose from: Nokia is not taking part in trials with Ericsson, Motorola and Siemens – because they believe their solution is already the best. The three other companies probably have “En usko” to say to that.

Nokia Push to Talk at 3g

Siemens’ attempt to get into the lead

Published by

Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?