Spectel in major push-to-talk conference deal

16 Jun 2004

Irish conference technology firm Spectel has entered into a development contract with a US mobile software firm to cash in on the push-to-talk mobile phenomena sweeping the US. The company aims to provide corporate mobile users with instant push-to-conference abilities.

Spectel, the Sandyford-based software firm that was once strongly tipped for an IPO, entered into the development partnership with Fastmobile to enable seamless interoperability between Spectel’s mobile conferencing solution, MobileConneXion and the push-to-conference and instant messaging capabilities of Fastmobile’s product Fastchat.

The agreement will enable both companies to provide businesspeople using push-to-talk mobile phones with a convenient way to instantly locate colleagues in a full-featured push-to-conference session from any push-to-talk device.

The solution combines Fastchat, a mobile communications solution that merges global push-to-talk functionality and advanced multimedia messaging features, with Spectel MobileConneXion, a comprehensive mobile collaboration solution, empowering users with seamless push-to-conference capabilities from a push-to-talk dialog.

The joint solution will also allow users to initiate instant conference calls among any combination of mobile or fixed line telephones from their push-to-talk buddy list.

Focusing on mobile operators as well as businesses, Spectel believes that that the technology will enable Stateside as well as European mobile operators to increase ARPU (average revenue per user) through increased voice minutes and conferencing revenue and reduced customer churn.

Colm Saunders, general manager of US operations for Spectel, commented: “Spectel’s comprehensive mobile collaboration solution, combined with the range of IM and push-to-talk over cellular capabilities from Fastmobile, provides users with a simple way to seamlessly launch a full-featured, low latency voice conference from any Fastmobile-powered push-to- talk device.”

Using push-to-talk services, customers usually push a button for the immediate link-up rather than dialling a phone number and waiting for someone to answer. As well as this, only one person can talk at a time, resulting in cost savings from zero dead air. The concept is gaining widespread popularity in the US and today some 20 operators worldwide are offering services. The service is being championed in the US by Verizon, Sprint and Nextel. Nextel, in particular, has made significant strides in selling push-to-talk services to blue-collar enterprise sectors such as construction.

In recent months, Orange became the first European operator to announce the launch of push-to-talk services, with the launch of its Talk Now service. Orange’s service will also be the first such service to be launched on a GSM service through the Handspring Treo 600 and the Windows-based SPV smart phone. Unlike push-to-talk services in the US which are being snapped up by messengers, delivery employees and other mobile workers, Orange’s Talk Now service will be targeted initially at large enterprises with sophisticated services such as the ability to manage group lists and to set up and record group calls.

By John Kennedy