Cingular today formally announced its new push-to-talk (PTT) service, the first such network for a major GSM carrier. The nationwide service will offer such features as group calling for up to 20 contacts, voice messaging, call waiting, and special Call Me alerts that tell contacts you urgently need to chat. Users will also be able to convert a PTT call to a regular call without disconnecting.
Cingular's first two phones to support PTT are the LG F7200 and the Samsung SGH-D357. The F7200 ($69.99 with service) offers a slider design with text and multimedia messaging, a speakerphone, voice dialing, polyphonic ring tones, instant messaging, a wireless Web browser, and support for Java (J2ME). The SGH-D357 ($99.99 with service) comes with a more varied feature set, including Bluetooth, voice commands and dialing, MP3 ring tones, and POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail support. Neither phone has a camera, which means Cingular will be pushing these phones to a business audience. Business and individual customers can use the new PTT service for an extra $9.99 a month per phone line, while family-plan subscribers will need to shell out an extra $19.99 a month for unlimited PTT use for up to five people. In the future, Cingular says it will add more PTT phones and take its new service international.