Free Push-To-Talk from Wave

Sprint today announced it will transition business and government customers from iDEN to Sprint Direct Connect — its CDMA push to talk service, and cease service on iDEN as early as June 30, 2013 as part of its Network Vision plan. Sprint’s new push-to-talk service uses their CDMA network to replace their old Nextel iDEN system. Sprint expects to take 9,600 iDEN sites offline by the end of the third quarter, says Fierce Wireless.

Meanwhile, Marc Tobias writes in Forbes about a new push-to-talk service called WAVE Connections.


For the past two weeks I have been using a push-to-talk service called WAVE Connections while traveling in Norway, Germany, Spain, and England, and with it I can talk with colleagues in Europe and the United States as if they were in the same city. Before I left America I loaded WAVE on my Android Galaxy SII and iPhone 4S, MacBook Air and iPad.

This software allowed me to have almost-instant cloud-based two-way radio communications that is comparable to traditional radio services that I have been using since I was a kid. Anyone who’s ever used Nextel already know the benefits of push-to-talk services. The company behind the WAVE Connections service is Twisted Pair Solutions in Seattle.

The app works on Blackberries, iPhones, Androids or Windows phones as well as PCs and tablets, and they all can talk to each other wherever there is a data connection to the Internet.

There are three levels of WAVE Connections software: free, paid, and enterprise. The administrator registers on the WAVE site, sets up the number of talk groups and assigns users to each group. An email is sent to each registered user notifying them to download the appropriate software for their specific smartphone, tablet, or computer. A user name and password is assigned for all members of each talk group, which may be changed individually once the system is used by a particular subscriber.

Marc Tobias interviewed James Mustarde of Twisted Pair about how their push to talk software works. It uses IP on a data network, so you need a data connection (but not a voice channel).

Many believe Mission-Critical Voice Over LTE is now a better use of the Public Safety Narrow-Band channels.

Voice Over LTE could make the 700-MHz nationwide IWN network obsolete.

Consultant Andrew Seybold thinks replacing the Narrowband channels with Voice Over LTE is not realistic. He thinks narrowband voice for public safety will be around for a decade or more.

IWN has been repeatedly scaled back. Funding for the federal government’s narrow-band 700 MHz radio network was cut in fiscal 2010 and then again in fiscal 2011, and has been suspended altogether for fiscal 2012. Further, the Department of Homeland Security is no longer participating in the effort, cutting the total number of projected users to about 30,000, and, according to the inspector general report, future participation of the Department of the Treasury appears unlikely.

New legislation will give the 700 MHz D block to Public Safety for a full 10X10 MHz swath of nationwide spectrum to establish a Public Safety Broadband network. Some $7 Billion of federal funding will assist in the building the network plus some R and D funds for future work. Motorola Solutions “is likely to be a critical supplier”, since Motorola controls more than two-thirds of the public safety communications market.

The Public Safety Spectrum Trust currently holds the license for Public Safety Broad Band spectrum in the 700 MHz band, but it has been restricted to a 5X5 MHz swath for LTE. The adjoining Public Service Narrow Band channel remains for voice communications using interoperable P-25 radios (at $5K a pop).

However, the 2012 Inspector General’s report on the Integrated Wireless Network (pdf), concluded the expense and limitations of P-25 radio networks is likely to bring the narrowband effort to a virtual halt, in favor of an integrated approach with both push-to-talk voice and broadband.

Taxpayers are funding a dedicated LTE network, exclusively for use by first responders. The $7 billion set aside for constructing the network won’t come close to funding the tens of thousands of $5,000 push to talk radios that will be required, not to mention building and maintaining the infrastructure. It will never reach citizens in many rural areas.

After extensive study, the FCC determined that a shared public/private partnership between first responders and cellular operators delivered better service at less cost. Technologies like WAVE appear poised to make $3,000 P-25 radios largely obsolete (as long as there is a data connection). Clearwire’s CTO John Saw said they will offer Voice over LTE technology when it launches its TD-LTE network in June 2013.

Skeptics might wonder if the same lawmakers who lobbied for a dedicated, nationwide LTE network, will be the first to cut funding when the cost overruns and jurisdictional disputes inevitably surface. With taxpayers funding a $25 billion dedicated network, we all have the right to ask whether or not lawmakers funded a white elephant.

The number of VoLTE users worldwide will stand at 74 million by 2016. That’s one in every ten LTE subscribers around the globe, according to an analysis conducted by Arc Chart.

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) infrastructure revenues doubled in the first quarter, according to Dell’Oro Group. “We expect multiple operators will launch VoLTE services by the end of 2012 after they have tested their networks when affordable handsets are available,” said Chris DePuy, Analyst at Dell’Oro Group. “Just as important, there are signs that operators will be launching revenue-generating services such as video conferencing, location services, messaging and file sharing in the coming year. These new communication services will represent the first major wireless operator responses to the threats posed by “over-the-top” services, enabled by smartphones” said DePuy.

Related Dailywireless articles include; FCC Gets Unlicensed White Spaces in Payroll Tax Bill, FCC Gets Autonomy in Payroll Tax Bill, FCC Plans Improved Rural Wireless Broadband, Municipal Networks: Good for Cities?, Spectrum Legislation: Democracy Now!, SF Approves Dedicated LTE Network for First Responders, FCC Plans Improved Rural Wireless Broadband, FCC Autonomy Under Fire, AT&T Competitors: No 700MHz Roaming, Universal Service Reform Passed, FCC Reforms $4.3B USF Fund, White House: D-Block to Police/Fire, State of the Spectrum

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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