May 06, 2004, 9:47 AM — New push-to-talk technology in mobile-phone networks could help business people use their time more effectively and consumers have far greater interaction with each other. That's the key message of Craig Farrill, chief executive officer of Kodiak Networks Inc., a company in the fast lane to capture a share of the emerging market for instant voice communications.
Farrill knows a bit about the needs and wants of mobile users: He formerly served as chief technology officer of what is now known as Vodafone Group PLC, Europe's largest mobile phone company.
In his current role, Farrill aims to help mobile phone companies squeeze more revenue out of their existing second-generation (2G) digital networks and create new revenue streams from their pricey third-generation (3G) networks as they go online over the coming months and years.
Kodiak provides an all-IP (Internet Protocol), packet-switched system that can be deployed on existing second-generation GSM and CDMA (Code Division Multiplex Access) networks, as well as next-generation WCDMA (Wideband CDMA) and CDMA2000 networks.
Push-to-talk technology, akin to a walkie-talkie, allows users to communicate simply by pressing a button. But Kodiak's systems offer additional features, such as voice conferencing, voice messaging and the ability to see the availability of other users.
Several operators have already deployed the San Ramon, California, manufacturer's push-to-talk technology, including Orange SA and Alltel Corp.
In a telephone interview, IDG News Service spoke with Farrill about the rise of push-to-talk, its advantages for users, particularly those in the enterprise space, and market potential.
IDGNS: Why all the talk about push-to-talk these days?
Farrill: This form of instant communications is creating a renaissance in voice service. It's all about faster calls, group calls and availability. We make it possible, for instance, to set up calls in two to three seconds, instead of seven or 15 or even 30 seconds with dial-up connections. What's more, you can see who's available. Why waste time dialing people when you can see they're not around to take your call?
IDGNS: Is this service something businesses could really use or is it more of a consumer play?
Farrill: The enterprise market, in my opinion, will be extremely interested in instant voice communications. There is much pressure in these environments to get more done faster and with fewer people. Most people today work in teams but they're seldom together in one location. So instant voice communications is a way to bring them together quickly and effectively.
IDGNS: Can you give an example?