SRC to Provide Speech Recognition Services for Freeview

One of Europe's highest volume speech recognition telephone services has been implemented to support Britain's new free-to-view digital terrestrial television service, Freeview.

Customer management specialist 7C (now owned by Vertex) is using speech recognition services from SRC to provide the service which has handled more than 500,000 calls since 30 October. Accessed from options on the Freeview information line, this speech recognition telephone service is to be used in response to TV and radio promotions.

UK-based SRC designed and implemented these services and hosts live operation on its carrier-class speech hosting platform. Launched on October 30, Freeview brings viewers up to 30 digital television channels, plus interactive services and digital radio, through their rooftop aerial. Working with Vertex, the SRC speech-automated telephone service allows callers to determine whether or not their postcode area has Freeview coverage and to request a Freeview information pack.

"The decision by DTV Services Ltd (jointly owned by BBC, Crown Castle and BskyB) to use speech recognition to support the launch of Freeview is not only a major win for SRC but another significant milestone for the speech technology industry in the UK," SRC's CEO, Chris Hart, said. "Speech recognition is providing an efficient and cost effective means of handling the high volume of calls to the Freeview information line.

With SRC's support the Freeview information line has already taken 400,000 calls, this is the largest speech recognition telephony service in Europe and demonstrates how the technology compliments traditional call centre services.

"Providing a prompt response to calls at any time of the day or night is a clear pre-requisite of our service for Freeview," said Niall Andrews, the former 7C's Chief Technology Officer. "The speech recognition system supports the work of our call centre agents and allows us to deal with more than 20,000 calls a day efficiently, so that even in the busiest periods, call waiting time is kept to a minimum."

The Freeview service enhances SRC's reputation as a specialist provider of mass-market speech-recognition applications, following the company's betting application used by Littlewoods Bet Direct and the Tote during the 2002 Grand National - handling 35,000 bets in just a few hours.

The speech recognition service used by Freeview is based on a number of SRC speech application modules, including SRC ContactCapture, which collects and confirms names and addresses for automating the handling of requests for brochures, samples, leaflets and other company information. These telephone-based speech applications are hosted on SRC's carrier-grade platform, built on Nortel Networks technology for media processing and call center environments. For the Freeview applications, SRC combines Nuance's speech recognition engine - to recognize what the caller says - with Rhetorical's text-to-speech engine - to confirm back name and address details from millions of possible UK addresses.

"Freeview is a fresh start for digital terrestrial television in the UK. The support provided by Vertex/7C and SRC to operate the Freeview information line is an important part of the launch of this exciting new service," Nick Gregory, BSkyB's Director of Product Planning and a Director of DTV Services Limited, said.

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