Sprint planning Direct Connect Android app, promises PTT 'renaissance'

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NEW ORLEANS--Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) Fared Adib said the carrier will soon release an Android app that will bring its Direct Connect push-to-talk service to all of Sprint's Android phones, instead of just those with the technology built in.

Sprint Direct Connect Now Android app

Click here for a slide from Sprint detailing its Direct Connect Now Android app.

"Our intention with this is to expand this platform," said Adib, VP of product development for Sprint.

Interestingly, Adib said the new Android app would herald a "renaissance" in PTT services for Sprint. He said the carrier is working to move its current iDEN PTT subscribers over to the carrier's new CDMA PTT service, launched in 2011, which he said provides speeds and services at least as fast--and in some cases faster--than the aging iDEN platform.

Sprint said its upcoming Direct Connect Now PTT Android app would provide "calling performance similar to embedded devices" and will allow subscribers "to get all the benefits of PTT without having to use a device designed specifically for PTT (e.g. dedicated PTT button)." The carrier said it expects Direct Connect Now to be "fully interoperable" with its existing CDMA- and iDEN-based PTT offerings, and will integrate with users' Android address book.

Sprint said it will offer its Direct Connect Android app through the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play store, its Sprint Zone storefront and in targeted emails and SMS messages.

Sprint's new CDMA-based PTT service essentially represents a do-over by the carrier. Sprint launched Qualcomm's QChat PTT technology on its CDMA network in 2008, but discontinued sales of the devices in 2009. Sprint said its new CDMA-based Direct Connect PTT service is better than the previous version and gives existing iDEN PTT users a way to move to Sprint's CDMA network and continue using push-to-talk services. (Sprint is in the process of shutting down its iDEN network and will replace it with CDMA and LTE.)

Sprint's move to push its Direct Connect service onto an Android app is similar to other recent moves by its rivals. For example, T-Mobile USA early this year introduced its Bobsled VoIP calling service, available on Android. And AT&T (NYSE:T) offers a number of services through Android apps, including a low-cost international calling offering.

For more:
- see this Engadget article
- see this Electronista article

Related Articles:
Sprint drops Qualcomm's QChat
AT&T launches PTT trials
Sprint details plans to shut down iDEN cell sites
Sprint to launch enhanced CDMA push-to-talk service Oct. 2

Article updated May 11 to clarify the nature of Sprint's new PTT product, which uses some technologies from Qualcomm.