I stumbled across an article by wireless consultant Anderw Seybold about PTT over Cellular on AllthingsFirstnet.com. For those of you who remember when Nextel was a thriving business, this short review of the PTT landscape makes a couple of observations worth summarizing:

  1. The carrier solutions currently don’t work across competitor networks. Until a user can use PTT services across different networks (Verizon, AT&T and Sprint), the market won’t see real growth.
  2. There’s a big difference in enterprise versus public safety deployments and use cases. Some advantages in the enterprise space are obvious and clean: an executive can carry a single device (get rid of the single purpose radio), the transition from an LMR system to a PTT over cellular (PTToC) can be done seamlessly, and the PTToC can typically add advanced features (e.g. GPS tracking of people, time stamping of events, location-based call assignment) more quickly than LMR.Public Safety’s requirements are typically more mission critical but less feature-rich.  Security and encryption are obviously larger issues than in the enteprise space. The unanswered question is how FirstNet will impact the market for PTToC.
  3. The big player in the OTT market for PTToC is a company called ESChat. (They may have funded this paper…?) The article references four customers in particular, including the Seattle Police Department and San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department.  These customers are all allegedly pleased with the ESChat product and have expanded their user base.There are clearly other players in this market. Kodiak was acquired by Motorola Solutions and Germany-based TASSTA has a sophisticated product that they’ve demonstrated in numerous countries, including at the last IWCE show in Las Vegas.

    The conclusion: PTToC offers some enormous benefits to both enterprise and public safety customers. It may remain a niche offering in the short-term, but given it’s real-time capabilities one can foresee expanded use cases taking hold over the next five years.