Enhancements to Push-to-Talk Technology Transform the Utilities Industry

It's becoming more difficult to use the word technology without putting mobile before it. The rise of smartphones and tablets has changed the way people communicate.

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By Igor Glubochansky

It's becoming more difficult to use the word technology without putting mobile before it. The rise of smartphones and tablets has changed the way people communicate. Mobile technology is especially affecting the business world, particularly in industries where workers are dispersed across the country and across the globe. Whether it's a construction worker relaying a request for more equipment or a bus driver communicating a route delay, the need for quick and easy communication is steadily growing.

The utilities industry provides services for a variety of resources that include electric power, natural gas, steam supply, water supply and sewage removal. Given the many issues facing utility companies, the process for resolving big issues in a small timeframe becomes crucial for field workers. Many issues that arise, such as outages or damaged electrical units, can cause large problems for businesses and households. The ability to communicate with co-workers in real-time with a Push-to-Talk (PTT) device allows the field worker to avoid time wasted on setting up a call or even leaving a voice message. Because PTT devices make it possible for users to speed up communication compared to a phone conversation, providing employees with faster response times and more reliability is essential.

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Solutions that allow fast communication are important for utility companies servicing businesses and residences. As a result of carriers and service providers pushing the envelope, we are now seeing more interoperability features built into PTT devices. This is especially important for utility companies dispatching employees who carry two devices: a two-way radio for PTT and a smartphone for data and voice communication. Businesses can now deploy a set of PTT devices that will allow field workers to quickly and reliably communicate from one jobsite to another. Companies can, therefore, avoid deploying a multitude of different devices and bridge the communication gap with a single device with newer PTT enhancements and interoperability features.

Take for example an electric and gas company responsible for servicing a large part of a state's population. With such a large deployment of utility services, it is imperative to provide superior customer service, ensure employee satisfaction and maintain a good safety record.

Prompted by issues with its previous network service provider and a desire not to overburden its IT department, the utility company sought an affordable and compelling PTT solution. The electric and gas company purchased a few thousand mobile devices equipped with features, including AT&T Enhanced Push-to-Talk, that would provide the utilities' field service workers with a safe way to communicate. The company's management team and field service workers now have a Push-to-Talk solution on a hardware platform that extends the company's legacy back-end systems to mobile devices to enhance productivity.

The emergence of PTT in the utilities sector has provided a more productive environment for field workers. Utility companies face challenges every day and depend on fast, reliable communication to resolve those challenges. When examining interoperability features and other capabilities of enhanced PTT solutions, many businesses have benefited from using the technology. And, this new era of PTT is in its infancy, with the growing possibilities for the technology offering a bright future.

About the author: Igor Glubochansky is the executive director of Advanced Mobility Product Management for Advanced Mobility Solutions, a business unit of AT&T Business Solutions. His responsibilities include managing and bringing to market advanced mobile solutions for AT&T business customers of all sizes. Glubochansky is responsible for enterprise mobility applications, including mobile solutions for retail, business messaging, mobile resource management, and near field communication. His team creates business solutions that help corporations wirelessly enable their business processes and customer relationships.

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