NII Holdings, a U.S.-based wireless solutions provider that operates under the Nextel brand in Latin America, has announced that its PTT (push-to-talk) app, called PRIP, is now available for the iPhone in the U.S. Built on Motorola Mobility’s PTT technology, PRIP offers users real-time, instant communication using 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi to other PRIP subscribers, as well as to all Nextel users. The app is available for download from the App Store or Google Play for the introductory price of US $1.99, with the first month of service free of charge.
PTT is an older-generation concept, originally pertaining to two-way radio communications, that is finding new life in the digital age. PTT over cellular (PoC) allows a user to communicate by voice with a group of people simultaneously, over 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi. Basically, it is a voice-based alternative to texting that is most useful under conditions in which time is of the essence. The PRIP app adds a “guaranteed talk” feature that informs the sender that all the intended recipients are ready to listen before the message is sent. PTT is particularly useful for enterprises that want their employees to coordinate with each other in the field, but NII’s service is also available to consumers. By making it available via iPhone, the company is making a bold move toward popularizing this technology and extending its reach.
In terms of extending PTT’s reach in the marketplace, it is particularly noteworthy that PRIP is carrier-agnostic—that is, it works over any U.S. wireless network, over Wi-Fi and while roaming internationally. In addition to PRIP subscribers, any Nextel customer can join in a PRIP conversation. For this reason, NII is advertising the service as particularly useful to businesses that require quick and easy connections across the U.S.-Mexico border. While PTT for smartphones may not have wide appeal, it seems to us that there is a niche market for it—a niche that might well get bigger if NII’s new offering finds favor.