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Top message:  AT&T continues its march on SDC: NextMail-like apps by cellphonesaretools   Mar 14, 2013, 2:52 PM

Replying to:  Reply by jrfdsf   Mar 16, 2013, 7:38 AM

Re: My personal PTT head-to-head comparo

by cellphonesaretools    Mar 17, 2013, 12:57 PM

Life is good, jrfdsf, thanks for asking. Sorry for the long reply below, but there's a lot to say about the state of PTT on the eve of Nextel's demise.

RE: "It seems as though a lot of effort is going into competing with Nextel PTT these days. This should speak volumes to all the naysayers who claim the Nextel business model is outdated."
> That's true, at least on AT&T's part, although I have seen absolutely no effort on Verizon's part. AT&T is smart to embrace PDV's workflow products, a boon to worker efficiency in many industries (and of course Nextel recognized those efficiencies & implemented NextMail waaaay back in 2004, a mere nine years ahead of any other carrier).

Because the $20/line/mo Nextel penalty is more than I can stomach, and because Phonescoop seems to be unreceptive to doing a "PTT head-to-head comparo" for us, this past week I visited AT&T, Verizon & Sprint stores to demo their respective PTT offerings. In a nutshell, SDC is the best of the three (in my area), although SDC is still a mere shadow of Nextel PTT (in my area), and it only works where there is rev A signal, which is spotty at best.

The AT&T store had only their older 3G-type "Kodiak" offering, which was dismal (talk about push-to-wait!). AT&T has no LTE in our area, and won't for another year or more, so AT&T's EPTT was a no-show, therefor a non-starter (again, I'm saying this only about my local "live&work" area). I was bummed that AT&T could not demo EPTT for me, but waiting a year for them to get LTE running for EPTT to work, is not an option for me. Maybe in the future...

It took four phone calls and one very knowledgeable, patient manager at one of our local thrid-party ("indirect") Verizon stores to put together a PTT demo for me. It amazed me that not even the corporate Verizon stores had enough PTT knowledge, or even enough working PTT phones, to conduct a simple PTT demo for me. The manager (Torrey) at the "indirect" Verizon store was absolutely great, although in the end VZ's PTT just didn't cut it for us. It was pretty consistently fast (about 2 seconds PTT connect times), but the "PTT logic" Verizon has implemented is confusing and therefor not as productive as Nextel PTT. The VZ PTT beeps signifying pressing of and releasing of PTT button occured simultaneously at both handsets, and it did not return a chirp to the call initiator's phone to indicate that the recipient was connected and the channel was open. It does show that info on the display, but (a) it's slow updating the display relative to the required speed of PTT communications, and (b) it's a complete pain to have to pull the phone far enough away to read the display to determine who is connected and who has the floor. Nextel's iDEN PTT has been honed over the years to a superbly efficient, logical, productive "PTT interface" that the user does not have tolook at the phone display to operate or keep track of. It amazes me that Verizon's implementation all these years later is so clunky and non-intuitive (compared to Nextel iDEN PTT). Also, there are so few configuration options with Verizon PTT, as an eleven-year Nextel PTT user, I just couldn't hang with it, although, credit where it's due, VZ has the speed consistently "good enough". Too bad, because frankly I was looking forward to moving to Verizon to get the coverage & reliability of their CDMA network.

Sprint Direct Connect ("SDC") works the best of the three (Sprint, ATT, VZ), WHEN THERE IS REV A SIGNAL. The feel, sounds, logic and performance of SDC seems very close to Nextel iDEN PTT, but ONLY when there is rev A 3G signal available, which is still a huge problem for Sprint (just as it was for their original Q-chat).

Everyone I spoke to in the real world (Sprint store managers, large fleet users, etc.) likes SDC, when it is working. The massive problem in many areas is the lack of upgraded CDMA network capable of the data portion required to run SDC. One sprint indirect store can't even get SDC in their store (they use SDC for quick communications between their stores, which is cool, but unfortunately they can barely get rev A signal to demo SDC PTT, and it flakes out on them constantly). It's difficult to believe that Sprint's network engineers have not fixed that issue for a relatively large Sprint store...I guess as a customer I don't feel so alone now, knowing that even a Sprint store does not have the pull to get network fix responses from Sprint ;-) Believe it or not, one store manager was actually reluctant to sell me any SDC devices & plan because he has had so many large fleet customers return them when they found that SDC does not work in many areas where their Nextel still does.

So, in my local testing of the big thre PTT-emulator offerings, SDC is still the best, when there is consistent rev A 3G signal. Sprint's CDMA rev A network upgrades are so far behind, so spotty, it is, in my area, a COMPLETE untruth that SDC has 3X the coverage of NDC as Sprint advertises. As a practical matter, as of March 2013, SDC effectively has significantly LESS coverage than NDC (around LA County, and other areas I have visited, even in some east coast locations). CDMA voice coverage may well be 3X that of Nextel's, but for Direct Connect, to this day Nextel remains the best overall in terms of performance & reliability, and compared to SDC, NDC is still king even in terms of PTT coverage (in my area, and on all the Sprint coverage map areas I've compared).

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