RealTime IT News

Verizon Wireless Sues Nextel

Verizon Wireless is alleging that rival Nextel improperly obtained a prototype phone equipped with a walkie-talkie feature, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Virginia Friday.

The complaint, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, also charges that Nextel passed proprietary information to a telecommuications industry analyst.

In a statement, Nextel maintains that it "conducted itself properly" in regards to the allegations.

"We are, therefore, baffled by claims made by Verizon Wireless in its filing," the Reston, Va.-based company said. "We are still in the process of reviewing the filing, but we believe it is entirely without merit and we will defend Nextel vigorously."

Spokespeople for both first were not immediately available this afternoon.

Nextel was first to offer the so-called "push-to-talk" feature. Connecting without dialing a full number has proved popular with many users, especially contractors and others in the trades who see it as a time-saver.

The company claims 11 million users for the service and is expanding its reach. An ongoing national rollout will let Nextel subscribers have the equivalent of a walkie-talkie conversation with someone 3,000 miles away. Previously, the service had only been available to users talking within their home service area.

Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications and Vodaphone Group, is reportedly planning to introduce a similar service later this year. Sprint PCS has said it too is readying a service to compete with Nextel.