Nokia Mobility Conference 2003
A live report from the Nokia Mobility Conference in New York City. First live photos of the world's first GSM Push-To-Talk phone - the Nokia 5140. Lots of information about Push-To-Talk and Nokia's CDMA strategy. Plenty of exclusive live photos of all the latest Nokia phones.
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Nokia yesterday held an event in New York City for press and analysts, to showcase the company's strategies and newest products. The Nokia Mobility Conference also served as a press conference for the announcement of the 5140, the company's first Push-To-Talk (PTT) phone.
Nokia Director of Push to Talk & IP Convergence Markku Savusalo outlined the company's Push-To-Talk strategy. Nokia's PTT technology is standards-based, using SIP (Session Inititiation Protocol) and RTP (Real-Time Protocol). The company plans to adopt the official OMA standard for PTT once it is complete, although they are not waiting for it. Nokia has developed its own "pre-standard" solution, and has opened it for other companies to use royalty-free. Nokia promises full backward compatibility between its "pre-standard" and the final OMA standard.
Although only one phone was announced this week, a "full portfolio" of GSM PTT phones is planned for 2004, including Symbian-based smartphones. By 2005, all of the company's GSM/GPRS phones will include the technology.
The company also plans to integrate PTT into its 3G (WCDMA/UMTS) phones. The company is evaluating PTT for the CDMA market, although no firm plans have been made, due to lack of standards.
Nokia also offers the network-side equipment necessary for carriers to deploy PTT. Nokia's solution is relatively simple to deploy on a GSM/GPRS network, requiring only a Call Processor server and a Register server - no network changes or upgrades are required. The solution is currently in trials with more than 20 carriers worldwide, including AT&T Wireless. AT&T Wireless plans to launch its PTT offering in the first half of next year.
Nokia's PTT solution provides most of the standard PTT features, including one-to-many broadcast, group management, and one-touch reply. The system also has some distinct advantages over the competition. For example, group membership is stored on a central server, but groups can be managed directly on the phone, using a native interface. The system also works cross-carrier and even internationally - wherever GPRS roaming agreements are in place.
PTT uses a type of Voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology, meaning it sends voice as data packets, the same way data travels over the Internet. Nokia plans to extend the same concept to other services in the future, including "push-to-stream" live video.
PTT in Action
I had a chance to try Nokia's PTT solution using a Nokia 5140 PTT phone, live on the AT&T Wireless network. I came away very impressed - it works just as advertised. Call setup times are about 1 second, and latency (delay) is 1-2 seconds. It was a clear improvement from the Nokia PTT demo I tried at CTIA in March.
Sound quality as not as good as a regular phone call, but that is common for PTT technologies. It's certainly good enough that people can be understood. While speakerphone is certainly available and works well, it is not the default.
From idle mode, holding down the dedicated PTT button on the side lets you speak directly to the group you have set as active. Shortcuts let you access group lists to start a one-to-one conversation, although it could be easier/faster to access. The emphasis seems to be on group (one-to-many) scenarios, which is fine since that is probably the most useful aspect of PTT in general.
Despite the group membership information being stored on a server, (instead of locally in the phone,) accessing it is fairly quick. It takes about 2 seconds to pull up a group list. The solution supports presence, so you can see immediately which users are active and which are unavailable. The system does not support PTT call-waiting, so if two other people are engaged in a PTT session, they are unavailable to anyone else wanting to talk to them via PTT.
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