Orange's Push To Talk launch imminent

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Orange will become the first UK network to launch a Push To Talk service when it delivers its TalkNow offering later this month. The system, which enables mobile phones to double as walkie talkies with users able to hold instant conversations with anyone with a similarly equipped phone/tariff, will be available to business users from late September with a roll-out to consumers in October.

Similar to Push To Talk system in the US the Orange service TalkNow enables users to chat to both individuals and groups at the press of one button on their handset.

TalkNow also uses a ‘presence’ system that gives the users the opportunity of seeing which of their friends/business partners is available for instant conversations and who has the phone off or is incommunicado. With the TalkNow team list users can speak up to ten people simultaneously.

The service will initially only be available with the Treo 600 handset. However Orange has confirmed that other manufacturers including Alcatel, LG, Nokia, and Sagem are readying handset that are compatible with the service. The upcoming Treo 650, which will be on sale in the UK before the end of the year also boasts a dedicated Push To Talk button.

Orange UK is to initially offer a promotional Talk Now tariff, allowing corporate customers to make group calls for the price of a standard voice call. Following this, TalkNow customers will have the option of choosing either a bundle or a pay-as-you-consume tariff. Full commercial tariff details will be available once the promotional period has ended.

In addition to the UK TalkNow will also launch across Europe in France, then in Switzerland, the Caribbean, Romania, Slovakia, The Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, Belgium (Mobistar) and Jordan (Mobilecom).

Although originally launched as commercial service in the US Push To Talk has also proved popular with consumers. Yet analysts have mixed feelings about whether it will be as successful in the UK as in the US it taps into a tradition of walkie talkie usage and appeals to culture that hasn’t really embraced text messaging.

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