May 17, 2023

Use Your Cell Phone as a Walkie-Talkie

NOTE: This article is not about any of the “normal” topics of this newsletter: genealogy, history, current affairs, DNA, and related topics. However, it is a follow-up to my several previous articles about the various walkie-talkie apps that convert your cell phone into a walkie-talkie with world-wide coverage.

Walkie-talkie apps bring all the excitement of walkie-talkie chat to your smartphone, allowing you to talk to your friends, send them messages, and leave voicemails. Of course, they don’t use real walkie-talkie frequencies — so you won’t get any interference — but they’re still the coolest, most retro way of talking with your friends. There are even apps that allow you to talk with users in your area and worldwide. Turn your Android or iOS device into a digital walkie-talkie with a selection of the best apps.

The global Push-to-Talk market size was valued at $31.56 billion US dollars in 2022, and is projected to reach $62.57 billion US dollars by 2032, according to a press release at

On a recent trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. I noticed a number of families using cell phones as walkie-talkies to keep all family members in touch as they toured the huge park. Initially, walkie-talkie apps were used by first responders and other public service groups, including industry, transportation, and public safety. However, nowadays they are becoming more and more popular amongst families, boy scouts, girl scouts, and amongst “pick up” groups of friends. I used PTT cellular apps a while ago to provide communications amongst the occupants of 3 automobiles traveling together on a trip of a couple of hundred miles. On a different trip, a group of us stayed in touch via PTT apps while dividing up a large cemetery and the group went searching for the tombstone of one individual in the cemetery. (We found it!)

The expansion of technology and the rising popularity of push-to-talk via cellular solutions are some of the major driving forces behind the expansion of the global push-to-talk market. Push to Talk (or PTT) systems and services have improved capabilities as a result of these developments. By providing real-time & secure communication, boosting the penetration of wireless PTT devices, and interactive media sharing capabilities that are driving the PTT industry, the growing use of cloud-based PTT solutions is assisting in closing communication gaps.

Global Push to Talk Market Definition

Push-to-talk (PTT) is a two-way communication service that operates like a “walkie-talkie” in the world of telecommunications. Unlike mobile phone conversations, which are full-duplex and allow for two-way communication, PTT only allows for half-duplex communication, which means that information may only be delivered in one direction at a time. It is a one-to-many or one-to-one mobile communication system that does not need the dialling, ringing, and responding processes that are necessary for a typical phone call.

While CB, Family Radio Services (a two-way, short-distance voice and data communications service for facilitating family and group activities), and other short-range walkie-talkies have been popular for many years, the newer push-to-talk over cellular services offer a number of advantages that are not available on other communications services.

The first advantage is price. Family Radio Service walkie-talkies cost $20 (US dollars) and up for each, while push-to-talk (PTT) over cellular is essentially free. The idea is that most people already own a smartphone and the addition of a (free) push-to-talk application results in “no additional cost” to already available hardware purchases. (Some push-to-talk applications also offer additional “enhanced services” for a price of $2 to perhaps $5. The enhanced services appeal mostly to business users and first responders. Most families ignore these extra services and simply go with the free services.)

Another huge advantage is the range of communications. CB and Family Radio Service walkie talkies can communicate perhaps a quarter mile to maybe 2 or 3 miles under ideal conditions. In contrast, Push-to-talk (PTT) over Cellular communicates easily worldwide. All that is needed is a connection to the Internet, something that is available in most locations these days (although not everywhere).

A few years ago, I used a push-to-talk (PTT) over cellular app installed on my cell phone while walking down a street in Singapore and talking with a family member in Massachusetts… all at no charge. No, not even a cellular roaming charge.

The demand for PTT solutions in North America is also being driven by the increasing adoption of mobile devices and the growing trend of remote working. Europe is the second-largest market for PTT solutions, driven by the transportation and logistics sector, which accounts for a significant portion of PTT usage in the region. The demand for PTT solutions in Europe is also being driven by the increasing need for real-time communication in industries such as construction and healthcare.

Impact of the Russia-Ukraine War on the global Push to Talk Market:

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has the potential to impact the PTT market, particularly in Europe. The war has led to increased tensions between Russia and its Western neighbors, and there is a growing concern among European countries about their dependence on Russian technology, including PTT solutions. Some European countries have already taken steps to reduce their reliance on Russian technology, with the European Union recently announcing plans to invest in the development of European-made PTT solutions. This could lead to increased competition in the PTT market, particularly in Europe, as European providers seek to develop solutions that can compete with Russian-made PTT technology. In addition, the war has also led to an increase in demand for PTT solutions among the military and other security agencies involved in the conflict. This could lead to increased investment in PTT solutions for military and security applications, particularly in Ukraine and other countries in the region.

Of course, my interest is primarily amongst families. Push-to-talk (PTT) over cellular is useful for many family applications, whether touring Disney, traveling in multiple automobiles, surveying cemeteries, or simply aiming a television antenna on the roof of a house. You might not use a PTT app very often but, when you have a need for it, you will find it to be very, very useful.

By far, the most popular push-to-talk (PTT) over cellular app is Zello, available for Apple cell phones, Android cell phones, and a number iof other computers. Although less popular, other Push-to-talk (PTT) over Cellular apps include: HeyTell, Two Way, Voxer Walkie Talkie Messenger, and others.Check your cell phone’s app store for a list of push-to-talk (PTT) available applications.