The price cut places the company among the least-expensive purveyors of so-called Ready Link, which includes a necessary subscription to a traditional dialed voice plan.services in the United States. Sprint customers previously paid a minimum of $45 a month to use
The company's move is expected to intensify competition among major U.S. cell phone service providers battling to sell push-to-talk services, which, similar to a walkie-talkie, need only the push of a single button to connect callers to another cell phone. Besides the time- and cost-saving advantages of the technology, callers are charged only for the time they spend talking to each other, not for the entire length of the actual call, as is the case for traditionally dialed cell phone calls.
Nextel Communications includes unlimited push-to-talk in nearly all of its cell phone service plans, the cheapest of which is $50 a month. Verizon Wireless' walkie-talkie service costs about $60 a month.
Sprint also introduced its sixth Ready Link phone, the RL-4920 phone from Sanyo, which at $70 is among the least-expensive phones of its kind in the United States. Sprint already sells a $50 Ready Link phone.
The company said Ready Link now has about 275,000 subscribers since its introduction last year, far below the more than 12 million users of thewalkie-talkie cell phone service from market leader Nextel.
Such services have won favor primarily from corporations with mobile work forces that have slowly been replacing the actual walkie-talkies that many employees used to carry. Teenagers are also being targeted for such services, predominantly because they curry favor from parents, due to their lower costs, compared with traditional cell phone plans.
"Sprint is seeing significant adoption of Ready Link among teens and families," said John Garcia, a Sprint senior vice president.