Belgacom Selects ScanSoft Directory Assistance Solutions to Power New Multilingual Automatic Service

PEABODY, Mass. and GHENT, Belgium - Belgacom has worked with ScanSoft to develop 1234, an automated multi-lingual national directory assistance (DA) service in Belgium. Launched in October 2004, the new DA service 1234 provides a speech-based solution for accessing listing information via the telephone. This service will serve an estimated 10 million people in Belgium in the two main official languages, Dutch and French.

To access the service, users dial "1234" from any fixed-line or mobile telephone in Belgium and ask for the telephone number of any person, company or service. The 1234 service can also conduct reverse searches by number to find an address or the name of a person. The new service is fully automatic and multilingual. Before the commercial launch of 1234 in January 2005, the service will be offered free of charge until the end of the year from three large Belgian networks, Belgacom, Proximus and Versatel.

LISA is the custom voice for the new service that uses ScanSoft's RealSpeak(TM) for Dutch and French. ScanSoft developed a DA solution including dialogue application, design, implementation, testing and tuning. The service is implemented on an Information Services Extended, Inc. (ISx) telecommunications platform.

"Belgacom is an innovator in deploying speech. We have been using ScanSoft speech technologies since 2000, for example in "Sherlock," our automatic ID search service, on top of our existing DA services on access codes 1207 (in Dutch), 1307 (in French), 1407 (in German) and 1405 (in English)." said Pascaline Dubois, directory information services director. "By using speech technology in our DA offering we can provide via the new 1234 an accurate and competitive service to our customers and complete the full range of enhancements on our DA services. ScanSoft's custom voice program allows us to give our virtual agent LISA a personality, helping to further establish customer relationships and branding."

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