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Nextel direct connect - why?

Can someone help me out? Why is this walkie-talkie thing such a big deal?

I understand walkie-talkies - you can talk for free without a network.

I understood Nextel direct connect as initially pitched - you could talk for free without a network (or so I thought)

But with "nationwide direct connect" I've gotta guess they're using their network.

So why should I prefer half-duplex with silly beeps over full duplex telephone communications?

I honestly don't get it.


Friday, February 27, 2004

You've never seen how contractors work.

I say to my Irish contractor James: when is this toilet getting hooked up?

He hits the button and says "Jimmy, when are you hooking up the toilet?

Jimmy replies.

I then say, "And why is this light not hooked up?"

He hits the button and says, "Seamus, what's with the light in the downstairs bathroom?"

Seamus replies.

(My crew of Irish builders are all James, Jim, Jimmy, and there are at least two Seamuses).

The interesting thing is that these guys are all over Manhattan and half in Westchester, but the conversation is instantaneous and short-lived. It's just voice IM.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Friday, February 27, 2004

Why? Because I have a very pretty daughter that will be in high school in a few years.

I'm the genre they should be marketing to.

Friday, February 27, 2004

I don't get it either -- who are you connected to?

It can't be everyone in range since it wouldn't scale or work nationally.  So do you have to join a group somehow?  Can you be in more than one group?

Isn't having your phone squawk to life on its one just irritating.  I'd imagine most conversations start with "what was that ...?"

Guess I'm definitely in the wrong demographic!

Rob Walker
Friday, February 27, 2004

I thought that they provided free walkie-talkie service to anyone on that provider?

Mike Swieton
Friday, February 27, 2004

Whatever it is, the commercials certainly do a horrible job of selling it to me.  They don't show me anything that the direct connect does that I wouldn't rather just call the person for

Friday, February 27, 2004

direct connect is HUGE with construction workers, truck drivers, and other "operations" type people. when I looked for apartments in NYC, my realtor used it to bring in his agents... any business types who normally use radios, are into direct connect.

rumor has it that many of the other carriers are trying to offer the same service. I know for a fact that a huge UK mobile provider is going to roll this out at the end of this year or early 2005...

 me again
Friday, February 27, 2004

Technically, think of it as a phone call that connects instantaneously. No dialing. No ringy-dingy. The speakers are much louder than usual cellphone speakers -- more like speakerphones -- so you don't have to hold the phone up to your ear to hear the caller, which means you can keep hammering in nails while your boss starts talking to you directly.

And in the US only Nextel has it. The other phone companies simulate it using normal phone calls behind the scenes, or using their data services, but the connect time and latency on those providers is ridiculous and it just doesn't work, so everyone's going to stick with Nextel.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Friday, February 27, 2004

Why?  Because someone needed to come up with a way to make cell phones even more annoying.  Now we get the beep/click from every idiot who feels self important.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Maybe a stupid question but... if you don't dial a number, how can you reach a given walkie-talkie ?

PS: For some reason, the French use it backward: "Ceci est un talkie-walkie" :-)

Friday, February 27, 2004

 me again
Friday, February 27, 2004

I worked at a trading firm 5 years ago and this system was really useful. 

What it does it free you up from the "activity" of being "on the phone".  You don't need to glue the device to you're head or be put on hold.  You can make multiple inqueries to several people at the same time without having to hang up on someone.  There isn't the overhead involved in establishing a connection in order to send/recieve information.  No ring ring ring ring.  Just b-beep, "here's your information".

But really best of all, the half duplex nature makes for greatly improved communication.  You get to finish you're sentences.  People actually listen attentively to what you have to say, and you them.

This system is not intended for joe schmoe who wants a phone, and that is probably a poor way to market it.  It is intended for people who work as a group but are not always physically in the same place due to the nature of their jobs.  Although I do have to say it is brilliant for bar hopping and making sure everyone knows where to go next.

Oren Miller
Saturday, February 28, 2004

>> how can you reach a given walkie-talkie

Everyone can hear you.

It's like a JoS forum over the air :)

I worked for a company where we used walkie-talkies before cell phones came in.

A lot of fun -- even physically separated, you always knew what "the guys" were doing.
Saturday, February 28, 2004

No, not everyone can hear you (using the Nextel). You can broadcast if you'd like, or you can just target

when I was directing an end-user support team several years ago, we were early adopters of Nextel Direct Connect, and it was very cool and useful.

I don't know that I would need it now, however, where my work is strictly analysis and coding. I certainly don't have any desire to have my family and friends beeping me while at work, where anyone can hear the conversation.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Because if you have dozens of short messages throughout the day you.

1. Don't need the formality of a phone call.
2. Don't have to dial.
3. Don't have to pay for the minutes.

Another example: I saw a cab company use them. Goes farther than the old way, and works about the same, perhaps with even less of the chatter.

Whoever said it was IM for the phone is right on the money.
Saturday, February 28, 2004

I think the "IM for the phone" misses just like the nextel commercials do. To me, snail mail=email, phone call=IM.

I can see the value of the walkie-talkie style, which IMHO is completely missed in the commercials, which show what I consider to be normal phone calls (which prompted this thread).

I suspect Nextel has either saturated their appropriate markets and are now targeting inappropriate markets, or else they figure that appropriate markets aren't going to make major capital expenditures based on TV ads, so they think targeting the execs is a better idea.

On the other hand, there's a whole thread about them here, so who am I to call their advertising misguided? Mindshare is mindshare, right? :)


Sunday, February 29, 2004

I think the advertising is rather poor, but most people who want such a service (contractors, delivery people, etc) tend to already be using it or at least know about it.  It is possible to get the direct connect service without cell phone service.  In other words you can use it strictly as a walkie-talkie service and not have to worry about employees making phone calls.  The traditional walkie-talkie services used by companies are not free either.  They pay to use a private frequency.  You can also talk directly to one person with Direct Connect, which isn't possible with traditional walkie-talkie services.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Out of interest, how does it work from the technical POV?

Monday, March 1, 2004

see link above.

Monday, March 1, 2004

Philo - thanks for bringing this up. I've been boggling over the commercials for a while: it like a phone, but worse being only half-duplex and with annoying beeps after each sentance!

I still understand how it works in practice, but I finally understand that it's actually useful to some people.

So how does it work with current hardware? Do you have buttons assigned to people you contact frequently, so you can dial them instantly? Or do you have to manually assign a person to the "Direct Connect" button for each 'call' and then call (as the earlier link indicates).

What if multiple people are being contacted and one is late accepting the message -- is it buffered or does he just miss it?

David Fischer
Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Is it accepted, or just the phone just blurt it out when someone "direct connects" you?

John Ganotis
Friday, March 12, 2004

you need to know that i use this service all the time and its one of the most usefull functions of a phone. and annyway now on some plans your ptt moght be limited to a certain number of minets. plus the new gps feature on the i58, i88 i305, i530 and i 730 series can help you track the phone (including yor kids)

ryan taylor
Wednesday, March 24, 2004

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