Alltel will begin offering Touch2Talk, an instant walkie-talkie communications service, across the company's digital and analog networks Thursday. With Touch2Talk, customers will be able to talk instantly to each other and switch to a wireless call at the touch of a button.
"Touch2Talk will provide instant communication on the broadest footprint of any provider in many of Alltel's markets, as well as the best features and functionality," said Kevin Beebe, Alltel group president of communications.
Touch2Talk's innovative features will allow customers to see on their phones the availability of other Touch2Talk customers, while also giving all customers the option of using a "do not disturb" feature.
"Touch2Talk will deliver clear benefits for our customers and fill an important niche in the markets we serve," Beebe said. "Businesses will enhance productivity by using this more effective and convenient walkie-talkie service. Families and friends will be connected at the touch of a button."
Customers will be able to use their existing phone numbers with Touch2Talk. Customers also will be able to use their phones to set up individual contacts or a group list with up to 10 participants. A maximum of 30 groups can be created.
Touch2Talk will be available this week in markets covering about 50 percent of Alltel's POPs, including Little Rock, Cleveland, Phoenix, Charlotte, New Orleans and Tampa, and will be available in all markets by March 31.
Customers will be able to add Touch2Talk to any wireless calling plan. Cost ranges from $5 for 100 Touch2Talk minutes per month to $20 per month for unlimited Touch2Talk minutes. Group minutes vary depending on the option selected.
ALLTEL's Touch2Talk service will be powered by Kodiak Networks Inc., an innovator in packet-switched wireless voice systems.
"We are pleased to have been selected as ALLTEL's Touch2Talk systems provider," said Kodiak CEO Craig Farrill. "Touch2Talk will be the first integrated premium press-to-talk voice services offering in the U.S. and will set the industry benchmark for speed, performance and feature richness. ALLTEL immediately recognized the opportunity to both deliver new services and functionality to its customers by integrating Kodiak's premium voice services."
Touch2Talk will be available on the Kyocera 3250 tri-mode handset, priced at $149.95 with a one-year contract and $99.95 with a two-year agreement. Customers will be able to add up to four phones at half-price.