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Optical/IP

Sonim: PTT Standard Soon

The CEO of VOIP software startup Sonim says that he expects to see a limited rollout of push-to-talk (PTT) services by U.S. carriers by the end of this year and major deployments worldwide in 2004.

John Burns, talking to Unstrung this afternoon, says that LM Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), and Siemens Information and Communications Networks Inc. are close to agreeing on a PTT standard for GSM-based networks (see Vendors Push Carrier Upgrades).

Burns reckons this will put the major equipment vendors in the driving seat to deliver PTT to the operators, rather than the startups that have so far dominated the market (see Walking, Not Running, to PTT, Winphoria Talks Back and Sonim SIPs $18.6M Funding) This, he feels, is largely because operators will need help provisioning the QOS software upgrades that underpin the VOIP services on their networks. "The network equipment vendors will likely be the providers of push-to-talk network infrastructure," Burns says.

Such a state of affairs would suit Sonim, since the company has a partnership deal with Ericsson and is talking to other major vendors.

Nonetheless, there is evidence of a swing towards the established players in the market. AT&T Wireless Services Inc. (NYSE: AWE) is known to be testing both the Nokia technology and the Ericsson/Sonim offering with an eye to rolling out services; and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) recently bought Winphoria Networks to beef up its technology. (see Motorola Eats Winphoria).

However, CDMA operators like Sprint PCS (NYSE: PCS) and Verizon Wireless, which analysts expect to roll out at least some kind of PTT service this year, won't be able to use the GSM-only PTT standard initially. Burns says there is likely to be work on a CDMA extension to the standard next year.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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