Case study: BT uses open source BI to support its voicemail system

BT has deployed open source software to support its voicemail system, which currently serves around eight million UK customers.

With the help of systems integrator Unisys, the telco deployed Jaspersoft ’s open source business intelligence (BI) software in its statistical data warehouse (SDW) around 18 months ago, following an initial six-month development project around the source code.

About 50 employees currently use Jaspersoft to query and report on data stored in BT’s vast voicemail database. Staff can analyse mailbox and message counts by class of service, service provider, and usage level and frequency, for example, and produce and distribute reports quickly and easily in multiple formats, which include PDF, Excel, Word and CSV.

This has helped the telco reduce the time it previously took to research and respond to its voice mail customer queries, and to lower the cost of producing ad hoc reports that were previously available only either in standard, daily formats or obtained by submitting a special request to Unisys.

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First Carrier-Deployed Voice-to-SMS Application Hits iPhone App Store

Promptu Systems Corporation today announced that the Italian version of its fully automated voice-to-text messaging application created for Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) is now available to Italian iPhone owners from Apple's App Store.

Like Promptu's forthcoming ShoutOUT, dettaSMS lets Italian speakers dictate their text messages in fluent, natural speech, instead of typing on the iPhone's touch-screen keypad. Transcribed SMS messages can be reviewed, edited and appended to before being sent.

"dettaSMS is the world's first carrier-deployed voice-to-text SMS iPhone application," said Giuseppe Staffaroni, Promptu's CEO. "To insure privacy, security, and scalability, message transcription is completely automatic -- no human is involved."

dettaSMS is integrated with Telecom Italia Mobile's billing system and built on Promptu's network speech recognition (NSR(TM)) architecture for speed, accuracy and scalability. Promptu's fully automated speech recognition delivers high accuracy, low latency and unparalleled security. User privacy is assured because the real-time voice signal is never processed manually.


Tackling the Bit Pipe Nightmare with a post-ARPU strategy

The bit pipe nightmare has lurked in the industry’s sub-consciousness for many years now. The threat stemmed from how the Internet would merge with mobile communications, smashing down the traditional operator and subscriber relationships. So far this threat has been contained. Mobile operators adopted a walled garden approach where they aimed to hold on to an exclusive relationship with their customers and gauged their value by the money spent directly with them. And, despite the proliferation of viable mobile broadband, subscribers haven’t strayed very far from the walled garden. That is until now.

In July 2009 the Apple Apps Store will be a year old. Its effect on the operators’ relationships with their customers is profound. Already 500 million iPhone applications have been downloaded from the Apps Store. Other handset vendors like Nokia and RIM are re-modelling themselves as app and media service providers with varying success. As a result, these brands and businesses are developing a myriad of direct relationships with operators’ customers through these new app storefronts.

Given this scenario, which is shared with many households other than mine, it is natural that the mobile operators are now keen to offer similar storefront offerings to their customers. But is this enough? And how can they re-capture the initiative?

Google Voice: A push to rewire your phone service

Google Voice, the new version of the GrandCentral technology Google acquired in July 2007, has the potential to make the search giant a middleman in an important part of people's lives, telephone communications. With the service, people can pick a new phone number from Google Voice; when others call it, Google can ring all the actual phones a person uses and handle voice mail.

The old version could let people centralize telephone services, screen their calls, and listen to voice mail over the Web. But the new version offers several significant new features, though. Google now uses its speech-to-text technology to transcribe voice mail, making it possible to search for particular words. Gmail's contacts now is used to instruct Google Voice how to treat various callers. And Google Voice now can send and receive SMS text messages and set up conference calls.

twit 2 who? Stephen Fry of course...

I was pondering the content of this article a few weeks ago, trying to get to grips with what it might mean to be a society of fully mobile individuals, always-on, always-connected. I can't help but feel it has the potential to change us - for better or worse - because it fundamentally alters the way we share and transmit information and engage with each other. Could it be so significant that the importance of the written word elevates itself above that of our innate desire to speak?
This pondering was, of course, all before our beloved Stephen Fry appeared on Jonathan Ross' talk show (23rd Jan 2009) and reminded us all how much of a twitterer he is. With reckless disregard for the consquences I logged onto Mr. Fry's twitter stream to discover a witty and joyful microscopic bi-hourly stream of what it is to be living the Fry-life, being followed by over 60,000 intrigued individiuals. Naturally I added one to their number (and it has since increased enormously).
At the time of writing, Mr Fry is 2nd in the twitter kingdom for his impressive Followship, while a certain Mr. Obama undeservingly heads the leader board (with a tragically small amount of actual content).
So immediately my mind turned to the thoughts I had been having previously, and to considering what influence does a man with an iphone and 100,000 voyeurs actually wield? What purpose and meaning is in it all? What is it we crave when we spectate on such a beloved figure in such touching detail. And how do we make sense of the paradox of such intimacy, yet such distance and remoteness? Is it doing something to our psyche?
While it remains one of my dearest aspirations to have Mr. Fry over for tea sometime (a cup of Eary Grey and a lip-smackingly good home-made curry), I have to make do with the virtual updates of his walks round Soho, trips to the Mexican visa office and meal choices while filming on set. This is extraordinarily intimate, so much so, that although he has never graced my table, I feel I do know him, I feel I am connected with him, involved in his life. (I wonder if he knows?)
Of course, if he ever replies to any of my twitty interjections, the mirage will be fully complete.
It is all very astonishing, most certainly more revolutionary than evolutionary, since Mother Nature could not have given us these abilities in quite such a short time frame - and therein lies the intrigue. We inhabit the information revolution, it is all around us. We cannot analyse its final outcome, since it is yet to happen. We can only feel our way, experiment with it, embrace it, learn from- and to enjoy it. Either way, in thrusting oneself headlong into this revolution's social web, it becomes captivating. The contribution of my new best pal Mr. Fry is as yet unmeasured, but in stature alone (regardless of content) is most certainly significant.
Where does this leave us in telecoms? Thinking hard about where to earn our lunch, that's where (in contrast to Stephen, who has it provided by the film production company).
(more thoughts on that later)

NTT DOCOMO Enhances Voice-activated Services with HP Media Server

HP announced today that NTT DOCOMO, a world leader in 3G and multimedia services and the largest mobile operator in Japan, deployed a standards-based media server from HP to reduce costs and shorten time to market for new services.
NTT DOCOMO is currently migrating its 54 million customers to the HP OpenCall Media Platform, which is designed to enhance the quality of voice-activated services. The server supports NTT DOCOMO offerings such as voice mail services, customized ringback tone services and interactive voice response services. The HP OpenCall Media Platform is designed to support many of NTT DOCOMO’s multimedia services. 
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OnMobile acquires Telisma

OnMobile, India's Telecom Value Added Services (VAS) provider today announced that it has acquired 100% of the leading European Speech Recognition company, telisma.
The addition of telisma’s standards compliant speech recognition products & expertise will enable OnMobile to accelerate its penetration into fast growing emerging markets by developing new speech recognition language models. This technology enables quick and easy access to mobile applications and content and also strengthens OnMobile’s mobile applications product suite. [click heading for more]

TelcoBridges' Tmedia and Interact's SPOT Enable Creation of High-Capacity CCXML/VXML Solution

TelcoBridges™ Inc., today announced that Interact Incorporated Software Systems has integrated TelcoBridges' award-winning Tmedia telecom platform into its SPOT CCXML/VXML interpreter set. Using SPOT and TelcoBridges' telecom platform, operators worldwide can deliver IVR and conferencing services simultaneously on thousands of call channels, whether TDM or VoIP, within a familiar standards-based development environment.
Interact provides high performance telecommunication solutions for operators and enterprises throughout 28 countries around the globe. Interact's new CCXML/VXML interpreter set - called SPOT - leverages TelcoBridges' technology to improve VoiceXML performance, eliminate CPU and memory limitations caused by traditional VXML solutions, and provide no loss of service-no loss of calls application server redundancy. [click heading for more]

The Ultimate Mashup: Web 2.0 & Next-Gen Telecom Application Servers

The stunning success of Web 2.0 applications is forcing telecom service providers around the world to speed up their next-gen service plans, leading to the deeper integration of Web-based technologies with telecom application servers, according to a major new report from Heavy Reading (, the research division of Light Reading (

The Ultimate Mashup: Web 2.0 & Next-Gen Telecom Application Servers examines the effect of Web services on next-generation telecom application servers, identifying the techniques, protocols, and hardware configurations that network operators must include in their purchasing criteria. The report profiles and analyzes 28 leading suppliers of Web and telecom application servers, assessing their products, development plans, and technology strategies.

The Ultimate Mashup: Web 2.0 & Next-Gen Telecom Application Servers includes a case study of the BT 21st-Century Network (21CN) initiative to capture the strategies, decision points, and variables BT considered in plotting its transition strategy. The 67-page report provides a complete and detailed view of the emerging next-gen application server market, including:

  • The evolution path of the telecom application server and the most likely future course for application servers
  • The challenges network operators face in delivering Web 2.0 services, including the impact of alternative carriers such as Vonage and Skype
  • An assessment of the relevant application program interfaces (APIs) and programming languages used by application servers
  • An analysis of the various types of application servers, the services they enable, and their functional roles as detailed in industry standards
  • An evaluation of Telco 2.0 and Web 2.0 services integration
  • A detailed competitive analysis of the products, overall vision, market strategies, and long-term prospects of next-gen application server technology suppliers

"After more than a decade of parallel development as clearly defined separate entities, Web servers and telecom application servers are now becoming much more closely aligned," says Jim Hodges, senior analyst with Heavy Reading and author of the report. "The momentum of Web 2.0 services is driving this closer relationship. For example, it is now possible to purchase, from vendors such as IBM and BEA, combined SIP and HTTP Web servers that from a hardware perspective represent a converged telecom/Web application server."

One factor that is preventing a faster convergence of Web 2.0 and application server technologies is the reluctance of vendors on both sides to compete head on, Hodges notes. "Both sides recognize that their skill sets are not as well suited to competing in different markets, and the R&D costs are prohibitive – meaning that telecom vendors will not develop Web servers and Web vendors will not develop telephony features," he explains. "Still, this separation is showing clear signs of dissolution, such as the decision by Web vendor Oracle to internally develop telecom features to support VOIP and Virtual PBX applications."

Other key findings of The Ultimate Mashup: Web 2.0 & Next-Gen Telecom Application Servers include the following:

  • The success of the Web 2.0 business model is motivating application server providers to integrate more Web 2.0-type capabilities into their platforms. Vendors delivering new application servers with Web 2.0 features include Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Nokia Siemens, Nortel Networks, and Sonus.
  • Hardware differentiation among telecom application servers is now virtually meaningless. Most suppliers of telecom application servers have migrated to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) server configurations, such as BladeCenter T, which are essentially carrier-grade Web servers. This means vendors have relinquished the ability to differentiate products at a hardware level. Telecom application server vendors are shifting their focus to delivery of high-quality modular software that maximizes the scaleability of the base platform. Accordingly, while telecom vendors such as Genband and Avaya sell software-only solutions today, at least one major vendor is considering the adoption of this approach in the second half of 2008.
  • Renewed interest by major vendors in the development of application server products will likely lead to further consolidation among suppliers. The consolidation and rationalization that occurred in 2007, with the merger of Aepona and Appium and the acquisition of Ubiquity by enterprise-based Avaya, will continue apace. The most notable move this year has been Oracle's announced acquisition of BEA.

VoiceXML Forum Certifies Verizon Business' Hosted Interactive Voice Response Platform

Verizon Business' Hosted Interactive Voice Response (IVR) platform has been certified by the VoiceXML Forum as compliant with the VoiceXML 2.0 standard and the latest release of the forum's VoiceXML 2.0 test suite. The forum is a global industry organization chartered to promote and accelerate the worldwide adoption of VoiceXML-based applications. [click heading for more]