"Orange today launched a unique international service, offering instant voice communication and easy-to-access group calling and messaging with the added benefit of a real-time availability icon, so you can see who is available and who’s not. The service is initially being trialled by business customers. Talk Now™– similar to the US Push-To-Talk service but with a more advanced feature-set and richer functionality - will give Orange customers a new way of communicating alongside their existing voice and messaging services. Talk Now™ will be launched in 10 countries this year, starting with the UK and France in Q2 2004.
Building on the Orange Experience, which promises to be simple, compelling and personal, Talk Now™ creates an immediate connection between two or more mobile phones so minimal time is spent searching for or dialling individual telephone numbers. You can see who is available to speak or receive single or group messages instantly. Talk Now™ will also allow Orange customers to:
• create buddy lists that can be used to facilitate instant conference calling
• know when contacts are available to talk and when they are busy
• speak to or message a contact who has selected themselves as available
• record a conference call and send it to others if they are not available
• send a voice message to other Talk Now™ users at the touch of a button"
The press release doesn't specify whether or not this service works with their Smartphones, but my assumption is that it's GPRS-based and will work with any GPRS phone. I wonder how well this service will work? I've heard very mixed reviews about the equivalent services in the USA, largely because packet-based networks aren't designed for the type of low latency that push-to-talk services require. I'm no network engineer though, so I could be very wrong about that. Anyone know more?