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June 10, 2013

AT&T Offers Enhanced Push-to-Talk over Wi-Fi for Business Customers on iPhone

There are various classifications of the types of voice interactions. We continue to want to talk person-to-person, but for a host of mission critical situations in a host of vertical markets where one-to-many communications is vital, Push-to-Talk (PTT) remains the best way to communicate.

We have come a long way from early walkie-talkies, as evidenced recently by Sprint’s decommissioning of it iDen Nextel network at the end of this month. Public safety agencies have their own next-generation person-to-multiple people networks, but what about all those businesses with field technicians and other mobile workers who need instantaneous multi-person communications, particularly in challenging communications environments?

The obvious answer is to, at a minimum, take advantage of the PTT capabilities of various mobile service providers. What is worth noting is that AT&T has introduced AT&T Enhanced Push-to-Talk (EPTT). It is now available to AT&T business customers through a new app available for iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S, and actually marks the first time a U.S. carrier is offering push-to-talk capabilities on iPhone. 

This means employees can use a single device for their communications. But what makes this worthy of the term “enhanced”?

Wi-Fi connectivity added to the PTT mix

The answer to the question above is that AT&T EPTT can now be used over Wi-Fi. You read correctly. U.S.-based customers can leverage the expanded coverage of their Wi-Fi networks along with making full use of AT&T’s Wi-Fi network, which includes more than 32,000 AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots nationwide.

Key features of AT&T EPTT for iPhone include:

  • Larger contact lists and talk groups than competitive push-to-talk solutions
  • Ability to combine push-to-talk services and mobile applications, with help available from AT&T's team of mobility consulting and integration experts
  • Supervisory override that allows supervisors to communicate important time sensitive messages to their team
  • Call setup in less than one second

By way of explanation, AT&T has provided a useful video on EPTT.

Mike Troiano, vice president for Advanced Mobility Solutions, AT&T Business Solutions, noted, "Across industries such as manufacturing, engineering, hospitality, construction and government, organizations need instant communications in challenging environments…From the start, AT&T Enhanced Push-to-Talk was designed specifically for AT&T's speedy 4G LTE networks and now we are offering even more devices so our business customers can communicate faster and to larger talk groups."

IDC analyst John Weber has written, "The performance of AT&T's EPTT service was comparable to traditional mobile voice services," and that, "with many mobile workers working within the four walls of the enterprise, building in Wi-Fi functionality is an important element to consider."

The fact of the matter is that from fleet management to field technician applications to interacting with warehouse personnel and a myriad of other commercial situations, one-to-many communications needs are proliferating, and the PTT market according to various analysts is growing nicely. Being able to take advantage of both Wi-Fi and 4GTE provides enhanced speed as well as significantly enhanced coverage and all off of a single device. That is something to consider. The Android version hopefully will be soon to follow.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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