Sprint has been maintaining it’s aging Nextel iDEN network for several years now, to support it’s large userbase of push-to-talk (PTT) customers. It announced plans today to replace the established iDEN system with a new CDMA-based platform, rebranding the service “Sprint Direct Connect”.
Scheduled to launch in 4Q 2011, sprint expects the new network to provide a wider coverage area, better signal penetration into buildings, and higher bandwidth capacity. It boasts triple the square-mile reach of Sprint’s current push-to-talk service.
Targetted primarily at workgroups that rely on push-to-talk services, Direct Connect will launch with a portfolio of several rugged devices from Motorola Mobility and Kyocera. The devices will feature most of the capabilities offered on current PTT devices, adding high-speed data access, high-resolution cameras, and bluetooth capability. Two of the expected devices are an ultra-rugged camera flip phone and an Android-based smartphone featuring a touch screen and QWERTY keypad.
The devices will support group PTT for up to 200 participants, Land Mobile Radio interoperability, and availability notification. Sprint is expected to introduce a larger catalog of devices in 2012, with new form factors and features, including international push-to-talk.