A growing number of enterprises are replacing or augmenting land-mobile-radio (LMR) systems with Zello’s push-to-talk-over-cellular (PoC) offering combined with speaker microphones and other accessories from Pryme, according to officials from both companies.

Zello provides two over-the-top PoC solutions via smartphone applications: a free consumer-grade service and an enterprise-grade service known as ZelloWork that provides greater levels of reliability and security, according to Nayeli Cortina, associate product manager at Zello.

“We are encrypted end to end, so we have all of the security that the big guys have,” Cortina said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications, noting that ZelloWork leverages AES 256-bit and RSA 1024-bit encryption.

“I think one of the misconceptions is that—because we’re not as large as Motorola, for example—that we do not encrypt or we don’t have the security. But we have the availability—probably even better than a lot of our large competitors—and we have the encryption.”

At an advertised cost of $6 per user per month, ZelloWork can be used with form of Internet connection, including Wi-Fi and all cellular services worldwide, according to Cortina. As a result, ZelloWork is becoming increasingly popular with enterprises, particularly in the hospitality sector, she said.

“Hospitality is mainly using their own Wi-Fi in that hotel; they’re not paying for extra cellular data, and that’s how they’re saving money today,” Cortina said. “But, if you are out there, you can use 2G, 3G and 4G LTE.”

In addition, ZelloWork also is being used by governments, public safety and the military for non-mission-critical communications to complement existing LMR systems, Cortina said.

“A lot of cities are starting to get to know Zello, and one of the cool things is that we are so affordable,” she said. “With Motorola or other [LMR] systems, you have to invest quite a lot of money to get this infrastructure up and running. For cities that allow cloud usage, Zello works off of our own servers. We host those servers for our customers, and we have encryption and everything in terms of safety, but they don’t have to worry about setting all of this stuff up.

“All they need to do is test it and make sure everything works, and then they just purchase licenses as a subscription-based product. So it’s really, really easy.”

Of course, some government customers want greater control over their infrastructure, and Zello provides an option to accommodate these requests, Cortina said.

“We also sell servers, so you can run Zello on your server—in your own infrastructure—and it does not have to connect to any servers hosted by Zello,” she said.

“That’s really important to our military customers. Pretty much most of the military customers that we have right now have their own server. They’re not connected to Zello at all, and we just supply them with updates—on a yearly basis, for example—for these servers.”

Over-the-top PoC offerings have been in the market for some time, but many require users to make multiple touch-screen actions to prepare the smartphone to engage in push-to-talk conversation—actions that may not be possible, particularly if users are wearing heavy gloves or are not focused on their smartphones at the time.