What's the appeal of Nextel?

Is there something i’m not getting here?
Nextel seems to advertise a lot their “walkie-talkie” feature of their phones. What makes this a benefit?
It seems we have come a long way from the “walki-talkie” days and advanced to actual cellular phones where people can talk directly back and forth simultaneously.
I know they have “direct-connect” where you can immediately beep another person but is speed-dial on a normal phone that inconvenient?
Sure, you don’t use “minutes” when direct-connecting with someone but for the price of a Nextel plan you can get over 1000 minutes with other carriers.

So what am I missing here?

To a lot of people the direct connect is invaluable. I have a friend who lives for it and uses it religiously at, and for, work. If he were charged for those minutes (He owns the company, so money cost does matter) he’d be charged out the waazoo.

I like it and am a fan because they offered month to month contracts and didn’t jerk the people around. You wanted customer service? Boom, you’re there talking with a real live person.

I also liked the idea of adding minutes mid month, on a month to month basis, to avoid the extra minute usages I previously got nailed with using other companies.

All that and it worked as advertised. Clear service, uninterrupted calls, the whole deal.

They’ve slipped a bit since I originally joined with them. The old month-to-month deal is out, rates have gone a bit higher, but all and all, it still beats the hell out of the competition (In my case, Sprint… the rat-bastards).

Judging from the clientele at my workplace, a lot of people get them so people can now hear BOTH sides of their super-important I-have-to-take-this-now conversation.

I swear to god, all I can hear sometimes is


I believe many of these phones are being used by the same bunch who walked around all day on cell phones for the first few years they were around, acting like they were something special. Why else would they keep them turned up so damn loud but for advertisement?

There are two things I wonder about NexTel:

  1. Why do you have to use the walkie-talkie mode like a walkie-talkie? Why not use it in a normal telephone mode? You know, hold it up to your ear and talk into the mouthpiece.

  2. What is special about the walkie-talkie mode? If it transmits over the same frequencies as the telephone, why would it be free? If it uses different frequencies, how does it connect to phones nationwide?

Nextel phones are something of a status symbol among certain a subculture identified by a word tat begins with the letter “r”, ends with “k”, and has “ednec” in the middle. It tells the world “I’m a general contractor, so I’m imortant,” in the same way that yuppies have very animated, loud conversations regarding stocks and sales quotas on regular cell phones.

I used to live in the Confederate cultural orientated western suburbs of Orlando, where a disproportionately large population worked in the building and construction trades. Every other person you saw out in public had a “West Orange County Passport” – a Nextel phone – strapped onto their belt. Any public place in Ocoee or Winter Garden was a cocophony of beeps, warbles, and loud tinny rants about building inspectors and minorities.

Part of the appeal of walkie-talkie mode is that it’s instant, not requiring the receiver to pick the phone up and put it to his/her ear. It’s a hell of a lot quicker than dialing a number, waiting for a connection, letting the other end ring and waiting for them to answer.

It uses the same frequencies, but not the same bandwidth scheduling. There is a certain amount of unused airtime available on a cellular network. When you make a phone call, you need a specific, constant amount of bandwidth for the duration of the call, which impacts the network. When you use walkie-talkie mode, the data can be sent in little bursts when the network has some free time, which doesn’t impact the network as much. The walkie-talkie messages aren’t really sent in realtime, but the scheduling schemes probably guarantee they’ll get there within a few seconds.

You can’t - it’s half duplex. Only one side can talk at a time.

There are a few issues here:

  1. Marketing. It gives Nextel something to differentiate themselves, and it requires that both sides of the conversation be Nextel subscribers. So if your boss has Nextel and wants to direct-connect to you, you must have (or get) Nextel.

  2. Cost. Direct-connect “calls” take much less bandwidth than regular mobile calls, and Nextel doesn’t need to pay other providers (local phone company or other mobile service) for the privilege of placing a call through to their network.

Nextel may have lost a lot of that appeal now that Verizon has introduced their own “push to talk” feature. It’s slightly less convenient than Nextel’s Direct Connect (takes a few seconds longer to connect), but Verizon has a much bigger service area.

I have to say that Nextel have done a great deal of marketing research. The distinctive ‘bee-beep’ it makes is synomous w/ thoses little devices, also the motorola FRS 2-way radios make that same noise for a low battery alert as you take your hand off the talk button but you think of nextel.

That said in many instances that the public is exposed to the bee-beep sound and speakerphone, it is extreamly rude to use that feature. This will lead to more restrictions on cell phone usages, and a more anoyyed public. I hope Verizon is able to do it right and default to a non-speakerphone mode.

When I used to work at one of my current employer’s competitors, Nextels were the company phone. In an controls, robotics, and welding group where we’d be all over the USA, push to talk to get quick information from someone was exceptionally convenient, as convenient as a real radio “walkie talkie” that everyone else used in the plant. For that environment, it was an indepensible feature; no redneck at all.

Given that, “normal” people that I see use this seem annoying and I have no idea why it’d be useful for the casual chatter I see them doing.

…and kanicbird since we use Motorola radios at work, whenever I hear someone’s Nextel I instinctively reach for my volume control – even if I don’t have my radio with me (which is logical; cell phones don’t work in the plant, and I don’t take my radio with me).

Just some more thoughts…

The Direct Connect (walkie-talkie) is very convenient device for quick responses as others have said above. It is ideal for small work-groups, when people tend to have quick questions and are comfortable with informal and short answers. You may have to try using it for a while before it grows on you. It is not the best device for long conversations.

The Direct Connect currently requires half the bandwidth of the Nextel cell call, but that will change at the end of the year. While the Direct Connect call is using packets (frame relay), it does set up a circuit for the call. It is not bursty like IP. The pricing may have a lot to do with marketing and history, but it is also billed by the second, not the minute. People also have shorter conversations over Direct Connect, so you get charged less. Remember: even if it takes a long time to get a hold someone on your cell call you still get billed from Send to End.

(The Nextel phones do have internet access. And that IP communication is bursty.)

The speaker on the Nextel phones can be turned off and the alert tones can be set to very low or vibrate. All of these features make the Direct Connect less intrusive. Many people will also leave the area so that the sound of their voice will not disturb others. As has been noted, though, many others are not as considerate.

Well good for them, then. It’s a damn fine phone.

Maybe their not as dumb as they look.

Which I had. It sucked.

About 15.5 was the best I could eeck out under ideal circumstances. At that speed Yahoo would take upwards of a minute to load.

If you’re thinking about it, don’t. More trouble than it’s worth.

Anything that can be used, can be abused. Such is life.

I’m considerate though.