Sprint calls it quits with QChat

Proving you don’t ever mess with a classic, Sprint (NYSE:S)has decided toabandon QChat and shiftits push-to-talk effortsbackonto the network which popularized the service: Nextel’s iDEN network. A Sprint official told PhoneNews thatwhile Sprint would continue to support existing QChat handsets in the market, no new CDMA PTT phones were in its roadmap. Instead Sprint will focus on PTT as one of the principle services on its newly reinvigorated iDEN network.

Nextel set the gold standard for PTT services a decade ago and since then no one has been able to replicate it. many carriers have introduced push-to-talk solutions using the 2G voice channel or VoIP,but they’ve been of limited success. The main barrier for those services hasbeen matching the sub-second session setup timesof iDEN, which none of the alternate technologies have been able to achieve. Operators also underestimated the potential size of the PTT market. While Nextel drew a loyal subscriber base of blue collar workers and emergency personnel, the service failed to appeal the mass consumer markets–with the possible exception of the youth market. Much of the early enthusiasm for PTTin the business and consumer markets dissipated in 2007 as customers wearied of its intrusiveness and found alternatives in SMS.

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