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U.K. Gets World's First Web-to-WAP-to-Voice Service

[London, ENGLAND] U.K. wireless Internet specialist Waperture has announced what is claims is the world's first "Web-to-WAP-to-Voice" service, enabling both telephone and WAP users to access Internet content.

The telephone service, named BrowseByPhone, lets users of ordinary telephones access content by voice and a telephone keypad. The service is not meant to resemble the rich experience of browsing the Internet with a PC, but is intended to put people in touch with specially prepared Web-based content of their choice.

Waperture's new WAP service runs on its WapGata portal and provides WAP users with access to the same user-selected Internet content.

Powering both services is a technology named "GataGrab," a proprietary Web-to-WAP-to-voice (wwvTM) "click-and-grab" technology developed by Waperture. GataGrab lets the user "grab" a Web page and display the relevant content on a WAP phone -- or have it spoken over an ordinary telephone or mobile phone via speech synthesis.

David Shaw, marketing manager of Waperture, said that his company believes that well developed WAP applications have their place, but that people often want content that is too data-intensive for a WAP phone.

"And worst still, WAP phones have nowhere near the penetration of ordinary voice phones. Over 92 percent of the U.K. population has access to a phone and BrowseByPhone now allows all these people to access Web based content. No PC, no WAP - they simply dial a number from any telephone and listen!" said Shaw.

Waperture has teamed with Cambridge-based speech technology company Vocalis to develop the new services. It sees "no limit" to the uses that can be found for them, including such applications as sports enthusiasts accessing their club or team events and results lists, through to business executives accessing driving directions or company reports.

Shaw said that Waperture is already in confidential talks with a prominent news feed service provider and would welcome hearing from potential users who think the technology will add value to their own services.

Founded in May 2000 and located in Birmingham, England, the company can be found on the Web at www.waperture.com.