Turn your cellphone into a walkie-talkie

A push-to-talk app can reduce your cellphone bill significantly, says Greg Miles.

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There is little doubt that effective communication increases productivity. Therefore any system that reduces cellphone bills is to be welcomed, especially considering that cellphone charges in South Africa are amongst the highest in the world. A particularly useful feature in this respect is push-to-talk or press-to-transmit (PTT). Apps with this capability can now be downloaded to smartphones, tablets and PCs.

PTT is a method of talking on half-duplex communication lines, similar to those used by two-way radios. The initiator of the call holds down a button while speaking and the recipient listens. Once the speaker is finished, he releases the button and the recipient is able to reply. Only one person can speak at a time, unlike a conference call. I have downloaded a PTT app called Zello. This can also be used on an iPad or other tablet that does not usually function as a telephone.

According to Zello’s website, the app uses 20kb of data per hour on standby and 110kb of data per minute when talking on a cellphone. This quantity of data is equivalent of sending a very low resolution photograph from your cellphone. Unfortunately, the app is not supported by Blackberry’s internet service, BIS.

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Comparing data costs
An amount of 1Mb of data costs about R2 when downloaded on a cellphone and will enable you to speak for about 18 minutes. A useful website is www.grandtrunk.za.org  this compares the prices of data bundles of all available packages on all cellphone networks in South Africa. The average price for data is about 50 cents per Mb. A byte is a unit of measurement used to measure data. One byte contains eight binary bits, or a series of eight zeros and ones. The byte was originally developed to store a single character

A kilobyte (kb) contains 1 024 bytes. A megabyte (MB) contains 1 024 x 1  024, or 1 048 576 bytes. A handy conversion table for computer data can be found at www.easyunitconverter.com.

Unsure about loading Zello onto your phone? Do what most people do and ask your children or grandchildren! I’m regularly assisted by my kids – they’re up to date with all the current trends.

Email Greg Miles at [email protected] with ‘Online Farmer’ in the subject line.