ScanSoft and HTS to Provide Automated Directory Assistance Service Using Speech Recognition

LONDON, UK and GHENT, BELGIUM, - ScanSoft, Inc. (Nasdaq: SSFT), announced a partnership with Hosted Telephony Solutions Ltd. (HTS), to develop a speech-enabled Directory Assistance (DA) application. The DA service will utilize the company's SpeechPearl™ speech recognition software and FindIt™ search technology developed specifically for the processing of automated DA calls.


At the end of 2001, Oftel, the UK regulator for the telecommunications industry, announced plans to replace the existing national (192) and international (153) directory assistance with 118 directory assistance services, also known as directory inquiries (DQ) services to give consumers a choice of DA service providers no matter what network they use.  This deregulation will lead to the introduction of a range of new services, such as call completion facilities where the operator can connect people directly to the listing they have requested, or services in a range of languages for immigrants and visitors.


The ScanSoft solution will underpin national and corporate automated DA services, as well as enhance voice delivered information services across the UK and other European countries.  The solution will cover the entire UK residential and business database.


"After thoroughly testing a wide range of speech technologies, ScanSoft Directory Assistance solutions proved to be the most efficient when scaling the volume of users accessing the system," said Adrian Clarke, CTO, Hosted Telephony Systems.  "Today's directory service providers are under constant pressure to increase revenue and improve the quality and depth of their data - but also reduce the cost burden.  Our automated DQ Service will create incremental revenue opportunities for the directory assistance providers by driving call frequency, and adding incremental revenues from services such as call completion and SMS delivery.  At the same time via our automated DQ Service we are able to help them reduce costs."


The solution will provide 118 operators with a completely hosted DA service, while removing the need for capital investment and costly time management.  HTS's carrier grade telephony platform is hosted in a dedicated UK data center.
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