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Lucent, Netscape Launch Wireless Portal

Lucent Technologies Wednesday licensed Custom Netcenter from Netscape Communications as part of its effort to develop of a new custom portal aimed at service providers testing Lucent and third-party wireless applications using wireless phones and hand-held personal digital assistants.

The portal, dubbed Zingo, will also incorporate wireless Internet technologies from Spyglass Inc. and Wyrex Communications Inc. of Toronto. and will employ Wireless Applications Protocol (WAP).

The Zingo portal will use Spyglass Prism technology to translate HTML content into VXML (Voice eXtensible Markup Language) for Interactive Voice Response (IVR) applications or WML format for WAP-enabled phones. Using Prism, a single version of content published in standard HTML format can automatically be reformatted for almost any device with a built-in browser.

Netscape's Custom Netcenter portal service will provide Zingo with an end-to-end hosted software solution that will enable the portal to combine Internet content with custom business applications.

Lucent said travelers driving in a strange city would be able to receive driving tips to avoid local traffic jams, via the Internet, displayed on a PDA or in text-to-speech format on a mobile phone.

"Unlike existing web portals, Zingo is aimed solely at the mobile worker," said a statement on the Zingo site. "This is meant in the general sense where mobility is considered as the ability to roam anywhere and still gain access to essential information services, with or without a wired connection. It is considered desirable not to tie essential data to any particular application or device."

"It is assumed that increasingly most people will have a mobile phone and be able to access the Web. Accessing the Web will be increasingly easy due to a proliferation of access points and devices including, Web-enabled phones, Web kiosks, set-top boxes, office PC's, home PC's and even microwave ovens (for real!)."

Zingo's IVR capability uses the Bell Labs-created PhoneBrowser, co-developed with Spyglass. Through this technology, mobile customers can have messages and information read to them on any phone. Users can also use a phone to customize Zingo features, and browse the Internet by reciting link titles from the portal or other Web sites.

Lucent said Zingo will introduce services based on user locations in upcoming releases. A beta version of the portal will be previewed at Supercomm '99, June 7-10 at the Georgia World Congress in Atlanta.

"Many in the industry are projecting growth for potential wireless data services, but Lucent is taking a lead in proving these concepts in the real world," said Dick Snyder, wireless data strategy director for Lucent's Wireless Networks Group.