Push to Talk: six FOMA phones in Japan get the world's mobile networks excited about ARPU again

by Guy J Kewney | posted on 19 October 2005

In Japan, push-to-talk is a novelty: Docomo has now announced six 3G phones to see if it can boost earnings there the way it has done in the US, for Nextel.

According to Reuters, Docomo's winter lineup of six 3G phones would include PTT, "which lets users talk to a group of people at the same time with the push of a button rather than dialing a phone number."

The new feature - says the Independent report - is that the user can have a call-group of 19 people, all with different phones. "It will allow for total interchangeability between different mobile networks and phones made by different companies. The 902i series is also compatible with Felica smart card and Toruca technology, which allows users to download advertisements or other information simply by bringing their phones near a special store kiosk."

Operators around the world have been driven into a frenzy of excitement by PTT - Nextel has posted excellent figures for average revenue per user, attributed to this feature. However, it's showing no sign of racing away with the market anywhere else - and observers have suggested that PTT is only popular in America, because of the weird method of charging for normal calls which prevails there.

"The key difference is that in America, you pay to receive a call, and so users have developed the habit of switching their phones off except when you want to make a call. You don't pay to receive a PTT page. So it encourages people to keep their phone switched on in case of incoming pages - which also means they receive calls," said one global consultant who works with Nextel.

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