Telstra Spins out new voice-to-text message service

New text service for customers too busy to hear voice messages

Telstra business customers too busy to check voice mail on their mobile phones will have the opportunity of receiving them as text messages thanks to a new outsourced service beginning later this month.

The telco has been trialling for the past few months the service by UK-based SpinVox.

The announcement also marks the official launch by SpinVox into the Asia Pacific region. Previously it had concentrated on markets in Europe and North America.

For Telstra customers the service, dubbed Voice2Text, allows them to pick up their messages as text messages rather than having to go through the rigmarole of having to dial into their voicemail to hear messages. According to the company, the process of retrieving voice messages is a quite a hassle for busy executives.

"We'll give business customers a way to improve productivity," said Telstra's executive director of its wireless and mobility products, Roberto Vannini.

According to Vannini, Telstra's trial customers of Voice2Text found the service to be "valuable over and above" the message bank.

SpinVox says the text message is delivered to customers within three minutes. In that time it travels an interesting journey.

According to SpinVox co-founder, Daniel Doulton, when a message is left on a person's phone a dialogue is triggered with the Telstra network which then sees it send the message via the Internet to SpinVox's UK data centre. The message is then converted with a speech-to-text application before being sent back over the Internet to Telstra's network where the message is delivered to the customer as a text message.

Doulton said the speech converter is clever enough to remove ums and ahs from messages. If it is unsure about a word it flags it within the message. He said it has a 97 percent accuracy rate.

If customers wish to hear the audio version of the message they can still do so by requesting it.

Telstra said business customers will have the choice of three pricing options: $10 for 25 messages, $20 for 80 messages or pay as you go at 55 cents per message. Vannini said Telstra will look to make Voice2Text available to its consumer customers in the second half of 2008.

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Howard Dahdah

Computerworld

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