Nextel, Motorola on track to deliver nationwide ‘direct connect’
Phase One to launch fourth quarter 2002; nationwide service rollout to begin first quarter 2003; complete nationwide service by mid-year 2003
Nextel Communications, Reston, Va., and Motorola, Schaumburg, Ill., have announced that their plans to launch Nextel’s nationwide “direct connect” service are on track.
The yearlong rollout of the service will commence in the fourth quarter of 2002, with phase one service offered in Nextel’s New York and Boston markets. Complete implementation of coast-to-coast service is expected to be available by mid-year 2003.
The digital walkie-talkie feature allows users to communicate with push-to-talk radio with sub-second call set-up. Currently, all Nextel customers can use the feature to reach other Nextel customers within their home calling areas.
The implementation of Phase One will allow customers to use direct connect in other Nextel markets to which they travel. Starting in the fourth quarter of 2002, Nextel customers in New York and Boston will be the first to experience the benefits of the service expansion.
Customers in these initial launch markets will be able to take advantage of two-way radio communications as they travel between the two cities to speak with other Nextel subscribers in the city to which they have traveled. They also can speak via two-way radio with other Nextel customers from their original location who are traveling with them.
Following Boston and New York, several other cities across the country are expected to roll out the new service during fourth quarter of 2002.
By mid-year 2003 and after the completion of Phase One, the service will be extended nationwide, allowing all Nextel customers to communicate with one another anywhere on Nextel’s all-digital 2.5G packet data network, regardless of the sender’s or receiver’s location.
“Testing has gone perfectly. Sound, connection and setup time have been of the highest quality,” said Barry West, Nextel’s executive vice president and chief technology officer. “Tests are rendering the exact same direct connect experience Nextel customers have come to rely upon today for their regional calling area communications. These initial tests confirm that nationwide direct connect is an achievable reality which Nextel will deliver across the United States in less than 12 months.”
Somehow overlooking the origin of two-way radio dispatch in the 1930s and Nextel’s own origin as a two-way radio dispatch service, Nextel offered this statement from Roger Entner, program manager for the Yankee Group’s Wireless/Mobile Services: “Nextel pioneered direct connect nearly 10 years ago, and it has been a key competitive differentiator as the company built its core competency around serving business customers. As enterprises continue to focus on adding wireless services to increase productivity, the instant communication capabilities of nationwide direct connect will be valuable to a variety of businesses and functions.”
Dan Coombes, senior vice president and general manager of the IDEN and Wireless Local Area Networks Groups for Motorola’s Global Telecom Solutions Sector had this to say: “For over 10 years, Motorola has continued to innovate and differentiate IDEN technology by combining the power of the packetized push-to-talk service with standard IP networks to offer an industry-leading voice over IP nationwide architecture.”
Nextel’s 4-in-1 offering is supported by Motorola’s IDEN (integrated digital enhanced network) technology. This offering includes digital cellular voice, direct connect long-range digital walkie-talkie feature, online wireless data and business messaging.
IDEN allows business users to benefit from advanced wireless technologies with one pocket-sized digital handset.
Nextel cited the following statistics about direct connect:
More than 150 million direct connect calls are made daily.
Almost 50 billion direct connect calls were made in 2001.
Ninety-four percent of Nextel customers use direct connect..
Every Motorola IDEN phone that works on Nextel’s network comes equipped with the direct connect functionality.
Direct connect calls are set up in less than 1 second.
Direct connect is highly cost effective for customers. Most of Nextel’s rate plans include unlimited direct connect, making it a cost-effective communication tool at a fraction of the cost of cellular.