All of the hullabaloo about Sprint's new CDMA-based Direct Connect service was not for naught, as the Now Network has finally confirmed that it will indeed be launching in a limited number of markets this upcoming Sunday, with broader expansion coming in early 2012. To get things started, however, the network ought to have a phone or two that have the tech built in, right? The Kyocera Duramax will receive the honor of being the very first phone to work with the new plans and will be a certified 810G military-standard clamshell handset with a 3.2MP camera, stereo Bluetooth, a 2.5mm headphone jack (not a typo) and a Dura-Grip rubber casing. What about the Kyocera Duracore and the Motorola Admiral? They're still forthcoming, but Sprint only mentions that both devices are coming out before the end of the year. The sooner the better here, because the lack of options can't possibly be a selling point for the brand new service. The nitty-gritty details are in the presser after the break.
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Sprint's New Push-to-Talk Service – Sprint Direct Connect –
to Launch Next Week


3G CDMA-based Sprint Direct Connect will expand push-to-talk coverage, enhance customers' broadband data capabilities, and enable new features

Kyocera DuraMax available exclusively from Sprint Oct. 2 for $69.99

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Sept. 27, 2011 – Sprint (NYSE: S) today announced a Sunday, Oct. 2, launch date for Sprint Direct Connect®, ushering in the next generation of push–to-talk service from the company that pioneered push–to-talk. Sprint Direct Connect will come packed with broadband data capabilities, familiar push-to-talk features, rugged and reliable handsets, and a broadening push-to-talk coverage map expected in early 2012.

"Our customers are asking for broadband and push-to-talk," said Paget Alves, president-Sprint Business. "We've seen steadily increasing demand for faster data speeds, better and broader coverage, and more applications on push-to-talk devices. Sprint Direct Connect is designed to solve for all three."

Sprint's 3G data network and our enhanced push-to-talk platform will deliver instant calls, increased push-to-talk reliability, and support for cutting-edge data applications. Sprint's broadband speeds will enable customers to experience the latest in technology applications, such as enterprise business productivity applications, social and multimedia support, and even advanced push-to-X capabilities in the future.

Sprint's upgraded push-to-talk platform, designed with Qualcomm, plays a significant role in enabling Sprint Direct Connect enhancements and expanded coverage footprint capability. "Qualcomm is providing Sprint a carrier-grade, IP-based solution that delivers the advanced push-to-talk experiences customers are demanding today and sets a solid foundation for Sprint Direct Connect to support even more advanced communications in the future," said Michael Wallace, senior vice president and general manager of Qualcomm Internet Services.

Among the initial Sprint Direct Connect services:
· Direct Connect® – Instant, one-to-one push-to-talk calling nationwide, with any other Direct Connect subscriber. Direct Connect is the core push-to-talk feature and is designed for interoperability across Sprint and Nextel network platforms.
· Guaranteed Talk Permit – The assurance that when you hear the push-to-talk "chirp" that your call was successfully transmitted.
· Call Alert with Text – Send an audio alert with an optional text message to let another Direct Connect subscriber know you are trying to reach them and why.
· Group Connect® – Communicate with up to 20 other Sprint Direct Connect subscribers all at once – nationwide, at the push of one button.
· TeamDCSM – Communicate with up to 200 other Sprint Direct Connect subscribers at the same time nationwide1.
· NextMail® – Send a recorded message to any email worldwide or mobile handset via text message by using the Direct Connect button.
· Availability Notification – Request the availability status of another push-to-talk member and, if they are busy, request a notification when they are free.

Sprint Direct Connect Coverage
Sprint Direct Connect service will continue to evolve. In early 2012, the Sprint Direct push-to-talk coverage area is expected to grow to match the Sprint CDMA voice coverage area – expected to be almost three times the square miles covered by Nextel iDEN today. Additionally, in 2012, international push-to-talk calling to select countries will also begin rolling out to help support our current customers with international push-to-talk needs.

Sprint Direct Connect Devices
In the fourth quarter, Sprint will begin to offer three new Sprint Direct Connect devices. The first new handset, Kyocera DuraMax, will be available Oct. 2 for $69.99 with a new two-year service agreement or eligible upgrade and after a $50 mail-in rebate via a reward card2. It will be available in all Sprint retail channels, including Web sales (www.sprint.com) and Telesales (1-800-Sprint1).

Kyocera DuraMax is the workhorse of the new Sprint Direct Connect portfolio. It has a rugged exterior and non-slip Dura-Grip® surface, a 2.0-inch QVGA TFT main display, 3.2 MP camera with flash and camcorder, and is designed to meet Military Standard 810G for dust, shock, vibration, extreme temperatures, blowing rain and water immersion (up to 30 minutes in one meter of water).

Kyocera DuraCore, a rugged phone built to meet Military Standard 810G specifications for dust, shock and vibration, to withstand tough environments is expected to launch by year-end and a Sprint Direct Connect Android device by Motorola is lined up and expected for fourth quarter.