India spices up ‘push to talk’ campaign

Cell phone service provider Hutchison Essar, a division of telecommunications giant Orange, on Friday became the second of India’s wireless companies in a week to start selling “push to talk,” the walkie-talkie style cell phone service.Hutchison Essar’s service, combined with one debuting from Tata Indicom, mark the first time push-to-talk has been offered in the Indian subcontinent and one of the rarer rollouts of the service outside the Western hemisphere.

“India beat everybody in the Eastern hemisphere,” said Kyocera Wireless spokeswoman Mary Palmer. Kyocera is supplying about 300,000 push-to-talk phones to Tata Indicom.Hutchison Essar, which uses the GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) standard, partnered with United States-based Fastmobile to offer the service.The successes or failures of the push-to-talk offerings will play a large role in determining whether other carriers throughout India offer competitive services, she added.

Push-to-talk technology allows callers to connect to other cell phones with just the push of a single button, similar to a walkie-talkie. Only one person can talk at a time, and there is no need to dial a number. Motorola and U.S. cell phone carrier Nextel Communications introduced the technology about a decade ago. For about eight years, difficulties perfecting such a service and the high price of push-to-talk handsets gave the two companies an almost exclusive hold on the market.

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