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Telstra has launched Australia’s first push to talk (PTT) mobile phone service. The service will be offered free until the end of September in an attempt to entice subscribers.

Push to talk allows mobiles to be used as walkie talkies. Instead of dialing a number, users just press a button on the side of a PTT-enabled

mobile phone to instantly talk to another person or a selected user group. The new service is now available through Telstra’s national GPRS network and is expected to be available for CDMA users later this year.

PTT has been a hit in the US, where businesses in industries such as construction and consumers have embraced the instant communication method. Telstra is mainly aiming the new service at business and corporate customers, although it is also available to consumers.

Telstra has been trialing the service with business customers such as Becton, Accor Asia Pacific, Mornington Peninsular Shire Council, and Alpine Shire Council and the feedback received was positive, particularly its ability to replace multiple communications devices with a single handset.

Telstra Business and Government Mobile Sales and Solutions Managing Director, Murray Bergin, said the service would be ideal for both small and large businesses and government, as well as consumers wanting to contact groups of people at the same time.

“Push To Talk will be most beneficial to government agencies and local councils, and businesses operating in the transport, construction, security and courier sectors or any other organisation that uses two way radios to communicate,” Mr Bergin said

“At the same time consumers will enjoy using Push To Talk, as it is a fun and simple way to keep in touch with family and friends. Young people coordinating shopping trips or social nights out with friends will find it extremely useful to speak to everyone at once rather than make separate calls,” Bergin said.

Telstra Push To Talk is available now in selected Telstra Shops (subject to handset availability). The pricing plans includes $50 per month unlimited usage or Pay As You Go (PAYG), charged at $0.01 per second for person-to-person calls and $0.02 per second for person-to-group calls. Account level discounts apply to Push To Talk calls for eligible corporate customers. (Push To Talk charges are additional to Telstra Mobile plan monthly spend and call usage costs).

As a special launch offer, Telstra will offer customers Push To Talk free of charge from the 21 June to 30 September 2004 (limit of 500 minutes per month applies. Telstra’s Fair Play Policy applies), with charging commencing 1 October 2004. From 1 September 2004 to 30 September 2005 inclusive, all customers who connect to Push To Talk will receive one-month free usage (limit of 500 minutes per month applies. Telstra’s Fair Play Policy applies).

The first PTT phone made available will be the Nokia 5140.

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