Nextel Charging $10/mo iDEN Fee

Sprint Nextel has begun notifying its iDEN Nextel customers that they will be charged an extra $10 per month beginning January 1, 2013, reports PhoneScoop.

Sprint has already announced plans to shut down its iDEN network no later than June 30, 2013. Some Nextel subscribers have yet to transition to CDMA-based devices and services. The new fee will be added to all remaining Nextel iDEN users until the June 30 shut-off date. The price increase does not apply to Sprint’s CDMA PTT service.

Sprint says its CDMA-based DirectConnect service offers three times the service footprint that its iDEN PTT service does.

Sprint is now offering the Direct Connect feature on its CDMA network and as a new app, called Direct Connect Now.

Sprint’s Direct Connect Now app works on a variety of phones. Sprint hopes to refarm the 800MHz spectrum used by its iDEN network for enhanced CDMA voice services. It also allows Sprint to add data to push-to-talk. In a couple of years, the 800 MHz CDMA service will then move to PTT over LTE.

Nextel pioneered push-to-talk (PTT) long before it was acquired by Sprint in 2005, and the walkie-talkie-style feature became a killer app in construction, facilities management, hospitality and other industries.

AT&T announced general availability of its Enhanced Push-to-Talk service on Tuesday, taking on Sprint’s Direct Connect service. AT&T announced an early access program for Enhanced Push-to-Talk in September and is now making it generally available to customers of all sizes.

AT&T Enhanced PTT is a Voice-over-IP solution, using AT&T’s HSPA network. Sprint’s PTT uses Qualcomm’s QChat, a similar VoIP technology, using Sprint’s EV-DO data network. Both the AT&T and Sprint plans include unlimited PTT. Data used by the Enhanced PTT application will not count against a customer’s monthly data totals.

AT&T’s Enhanced PTT application can be downloaded from Google Play, and will be preinstalled on the Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro, the Samsung Rugby III, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and the BlackBerry Curve 9360. Customers can also download AT&T’s PTT application and install it in the Samsung Galaxy S III or Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket.

AT&T’s Enhanced PTT is based on technology from Kodiak Networks. AT&T says it has sub-second call setup; larger contact lists and talk groups than rival PTT solutions; can combine PTT services and mobile applications; supervisory override; and talk group scanning.

AT&T’ says that Enhanced PTT can run over its LTE network and can support larger contact lists and talk groups than competing systems do. Talk groups, which can be addressed all at once for general alerts, can be as big as 250 users. Enhanced PTT also allows for “supervisory override,” where a manager can interrupt and talk over any current PTT calls in the group.

AT&T’s service costs US$5 per month when added to other voice and data plans, or $30 per month by itself. PTT calls don’t count against a subscriber’s monthly data limits.

Spirent, a radio field testing company, conducted voice trials on a commercial VoLTE-enabled network in two U.S. cities, and found VoIP calls made over LTE used twice as much battery power as CDMA voice.

Typically, over-the-top VoIP applications like Skype and Google Voice rely on the Internet to deliver packets – but Internet delivery is done on a “best effort” basis, explains Spirent.

VoLTE, on the other hand, uses the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and new radio access network features to ensure low latency, improved error correction in fringe areas, and other features for “carrier grade” voice service.

MetroPCS is currently the only U.S. operator with a live VoLTE service.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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