Place Push to Talk on Your Internal Communications Menu

Push to Talk (PTT) is a mobile phone service that's often overlooked, but it's one that can save many businesses considerable amounts of money.

That's because PTT, in combination with an appropriate handset, can provide a very cost effective alternative to conventional walkie-talkie and radio dispatch systems in industries as diverse as hospitality, security, courier services and construction. The technology is ideal for any business with employees working "in the field." And, when combined with the GPS technology found in an increasing number of handsets, PTT gives cell phones capabilities that go far beyond those of legacy radio communications systems.

PTT is essentially a business radio service that allows both one-to-one communication and broadcast communication to a group of people of almost any size. But instead of relying on the power of individual radio transmitters to provide adequate communication range, the system uses the data channel of existing phone networks to transmit messages between conventional cell phone and smartphone handsets. PTT services are offered by phone carriers and by independent PTT service providers.

Users access PTT services in a similar fashion to the way they might use an instant messaging client. Other PTT users are displayed in a buddy list that shows when they are available—just like instant messaging presence information —and one or more people or a pre-defined group is selected before pressing the phone's designated PTT button to transmit.

Like a walkie-talkie system, users can only talk or receive messages at a given time, but not both, and incoming messages can be heard over the cell phone's loudspeaker, or, more discretely, using an earphone.

Staff that have already been supplied with a mobile handset can often use the same handset as a PTT device (depending on the particular model), so in many cases no additional equipment needs to be purchased (or carried around by the staff member.) Inexpensive handsets can also be configured for PTT communication only for staff who need access to PTT services but not voice calling.

But what is the attraction of PTT? Why not just use mobile phone based communications?

The answer is that, like a walkie-talkie or a radio despatch system, it is ideal in circumstances in which staff need to send frequent short messages to colleagues, perhaps to update them on work progress. PPT is also beneficial when a central office needs to get information from a team of workers quickly.

"What many people require is a radio system that works all the time, over a wide area. PTT works over the biggest network -- bar none globally -- giving radio-like functionality and very high sound quality, with a range that can reach across the globe," says John Murray, CTO of InTechnology, a UK-based PTT service provider.


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