Sprint to launch Direct Connect push-to-talk service, Kyocera DuraMax on October 2nd

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from Omaha, NE
Published: September 27, 2011

Sprint logo

If you count yourself among the group of push-to-talk (PTT) lovers out there, then October 2nd is going to be a pretty big day for you. That's the date that Sprint plans to flip the switch on its spiffy new Direct Connect PTT service that's powered by the carrier's CDMA network. Sprint says that, with its CDMA network, Direct Connect will provide users with faster data speeds and better in-building coverage. In early 2012, it expects the Direct Connect coverage area to match its existing CDMA network. When Direct Connect launches on October 2nd, customers can expect services like Direct Connect PTT calling, Group Connect, TeamDC, and NextMail, a feature that allows users to send a recorded message via email or text message using the Direct Connect button.

As with any new service, you'll need devices to run on Sprint Direct Connect, right? The good news is that the Now Network is a trio of Direct Connect handsets in the pipeline this year, one of which will be available on October 2nd. That's the Kyocera DuraMax, which is a clamshell device with a 2-inch display, 3.2-megapixel camera, 1GB microSD card preinstalled, and 1,360mAh battery. The DuraMax is also built to meet Military Standard 810G, meaning it can withstand dust, shock, vibration, extreme temperatures, water, and just about anything else you could dream of doing to it. The DuraMax will be priced at $69.99 with a $50 mail-in rebate and two-year contract. In Q4, Sprint will launch the Kyocera DuraCore and an unnamed Motorola Android device (likely the Admiral).

Sprint's Direct Connect service has been a long time coming considering that we first learned about it back in mid-March, but it's exciting to see that the service is finally about to go live, even if you're not an avid chirper. So let's run down the list of big Sprint happenings for October so far: Direct Connect going live, mobile hotspot cap, Strategy Update event, and possibly the iPhone 5. The temperatures may be dropping, but it looks like things on Sprint are about to heat up in a big way!

Sprint’s New Push-to-Talk Service – Sprint Direct Connect – to Launch Next Week
3G CDMA-based Sprint Direct Connect will expand push-to-talk coverage, enhance customers’ broadband data capabilities, and enable new features

Kyocera DuraMax available exclusively from Sprint Oct. 2 for $69.99

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), September 27, 2011 - Sprint (NYSE: S) today announced a Sunday, Oct. 2, launch date for Sprint Direct Connect®, ushering in the next generation of push–to-talk service from the company that pioneered push–to-talk. Sprint Direct Connect will come packed with broadband data capabilities, familiar push-to-talk features, rugged and reliable handsets, and a broadening push-to-talk coverage map expected in early 2012.

“Our customers are asking for broadband and push-to-talk,” said Paget Alves, president-Sprint Business. “We’ve seen steadily increasing demand for faster data speeds, better and broader coverage, and more applications on push-to-talk devices. Sprint Direct Connect is designed to solve for all three.”

Sprint’s 3G data network and our enhanced push-to-talk platform will deliver instant calls, increased push-to-talk reliability, and support for cutting-edge data applications. Sprint’s broadband speeds will enable customers to experience the latest in technology applications, such as enterprise business productivity applications, social and multimedia support, and even advanced push-to-X capabilities in the future.

Sprint’s upgraded push-to-talk platform, designed with Qualcomm, plays a significant role in enabling Sprint Direct Connect enhancements and expanded coverage footprint capability. “Qualcomm is providing Sprint a carrier-grade, IP-based solution that delivers the advanced push-to-talk experiences customers are demanding today and sets a solid foundation for Sprint Direct Connect to support even more advanced communications in the future,” said Michael Wallace, senior vice president and general manager of Qualcomm Internet Services.

Among the initial Sprint Direct Connect services:

Direct Connect® – Instant, one-to-one push-to-talk calling nationwide, with any other Direct Connect subscriber. Direct Connect is the core push-to-talk feature and is designed for interoperability across Sprint and Nextel network platforms.
Guaranteed Talk Permit – The assurance that when you hear the push-to-talk “chirp” that your call was successfully transmitted.
Call Alert with Text – Send an audio alert with an optional text message to let another Direct Connect subscriber know you are trying to reach them and why.
Group Connect® – Communicate with up to 20 other Sprint Direct Connect subscribers all at once – nationwide, at the push of one button.
TeamDCSM – Communicate with up to 200 other Sprint Direct Connect subscribers at the same time nationwide1.
NextMail® – Send a recorded message to any email worldwide or mobile handset via text message by using the Direct Connect button.
Availability Notification – Request the availability status of another push-to-talk member and, if they are busy, request a notification when they are free.
Sprint Direct Connect Coverage

Sprint Direct Connect service will continue to evolve. In early 2012, the Sprint Direct push-to-talk coverage area is expected to grow to match the Sprint CDMA voice coverage area – expected to be almost three times the square miles covered by Nextel iDEN today. Additionally, in 2012, international push-to-talk calling to select countries will also begin rolling out to help support our current customers with international push-to-talk needs.

Sprint Direct Connect Devices

In the fourth quarter, Sprint will begin to offer three new Sprint Direct Connect devices. The first new handset, Kyocera DuraMax, will be available Oct. 2 for $69.99 with a new two-year service agreement or eligible upgrade and after a $50 mail-in rebate via a reward card2. It will be available in all Sprint retail channels, including Web sales (www.sprint.com) and Telesales (1-800-Sprint1).

Kyocera DuraMax is the workhorse of the new Sprint Direct Connect portfolio. It has a rugged exterior and non-slip Dura-Grip® surface, a 2.0-inch QVGA TFT main display, 3.2 MP camera with flash and camcorder, and is designed to meet Military Standard 810G for dust, shock, vibration, extreme temperatures, blowing rain and water immersion (up to 30 minutes in one meter of water).

Kyocera DuraCore, a rugged phone built to meet Military Standard 810G specifications for dust, shock and vibration, to withstand tough environments is expected to launch by year-end and a Sprint Direct Connect Android device by Motorola is lined up and expected for fourth quarter.

Network Vision

Sprint Direct Connect marks an important step in the evolution of Network Vision, Sprint’s blueprint to deploy a single, cost-effective and innovative broadband wireless network. Sprint’s Network Vision upgrade will result in enhanced coverage; quality and speed; better network flexibility; reduced operating costs; and improved environmental sustainability. During the Network Vision implementation, Sprint plans to support the iDEN network into 2013 and to assist customers with their migration to the new feature-rich Sprint Direct Connect devices.

About Sprint Nextel

Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served more than 52 million customers at the end of 2Q 2011 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. Newsweek ranked Sprint No. 6 in its 2010 Green Rankings, listing it as one of the nation’s greenest companies, the highest of any telecommunications company. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.

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