Sprint Nextel and Motorola yesterday announced the availability of a Motobridge gateway that will allow Direct Connect users on Sprint Nextel’s iDEN network to have push-to-talk communications with users on land-mobile-radio (LMR) systems.

There are plenty of radio cross-connect devices on the market today, but those solutions typically are limited, said Scot Smith, Sprint Nextel’s public-sector industry solutions manager.

“What [most cross-connect solutions] do is allow you to remotely push to talk, and they’re automatically talking on a talk group or a channel,” Smith said during an interview with MRT. “While that’s beneficial in some cases, the customers are demanding full dispatch control—targeting individuals, seeing who’s calling in and building alias lists. That’s all basic dispatch functionality, and that’s what the industry is really desiring.

“This is not just a patch. This is true dispatch.”

Motobridge has been part of Motorola’s product portfolio for years, but the iDEN interface that allows the push-to-talk capability with LMR systems is a new development that has been trialed by beta customers, Smith said. Although the joint press release only mentions interoperability with Project 25 systems, Smith said the solution has much broader application.

“It’s not just [for] P25, it’s essentially any LMR system—from UHF, VHF, 800 MHz, analog, digital,” he said.

Ordered through Motorola, the Motobridge gateway most often will be used in a fixed environment, but it could be used in an incident-command scenario because “it’s just as transportable as a lot of the other radio-gateway solutions,” Smith said.

For those using Sprint Nextel’s Direct Connect, the solution will enable advanced features such as group calls, alert status messages, talkgroup calls and emergency alerts. Development of the solution made sense, because Motorola and Sprint Nextel have customer bases that largely overlap, Smith said.

“We’ve got a huge mutual customer base out there—they’re Motorola radio system users and they’re also Nextel users, as their secondary device,” he said. “They can use their primary systems day in and day out, and their secondary system—Nextel—is a seamlessly integrated radio system. So the traditional boundaries of dispatch communication are really dissolving.”

When Sprint Nextel launches its QChat push-to-talk service on CDMA phones in the coming months, the Motobridge solution—combined with an iDEN connection—will allow the same dispatch functionalities with iDEN and LMR users, Smith said.