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Tellme Dials Into Web-Based Telephone Networks

Creating Web-based phone sites for ski reports, concert ticket sales, or company telephone directories just got easier.

Tellme Networks, Inc. Wednesday moved to bring Internet open standards to telephone networks.

The firm developed one of the first open platforms so that businesses and individuals could use its services to create phone sites. The voice-activated phone applications, powered by the Internet and accessible to anyone with a phone, can range from a simple automated answering service to a sophisticated store locator with driving directions.

Mike McCue, Tellme chairman and chief executive officer, said the service is all about recreating the Web phenomenon on telephone networks.

"By bringing the Internet's open standards to the phone, we expect to see the creation of thousands of compelling phone sites linked together to form a 'phone Web' that can be used by nearly anyone, anywhere," McCue said.

Nearly anyone can build their first phone site within minutes after signing up for Tellme Studio, Tellme's free developer Web site. The online service provides all the documentation, tools, and resources necessary to create rich phone sites right over the Web using familiar Internet standards like VXML, JavaScript, and HTTP.

Jim Barksdale, founding partner of the Barksdale Group and former Netscape chief executive, said as a Tellme advisor, the development reminded him of the early days of the Web.

"Originally the Internet was primarily a communications medium for e-mail," Barksdale said. "Then the Web emerged with a wide range of content, commerce, and communications applications. The same phenomenon is happening on the telephone network only this time developers can reach a much larger audience."

The Tellme Studio breakthrough means that even small businesses and individuals can create voice-activated phone applications entirely over the Web at a fraction of the cost of advanced telecommunication network services.

The service is open for free to all developers to see what phone sites can be created to extend the power of the Web to anyone. Tellme provides the extensive documentation, sample code, templates, web wizards, debugging tools, and technical newsgroups necessary to get a simple phone site up and running in minutes.

Once built, developers can work with Tellme to more broadly deploy their sites through their own toll-free number or by integrating their offerings into Tellme's consumer service. Because phone sites are enabled on Tellme's open network, neither deployment option requires the developer to purchase, install, and maintain proprietary hardware, software or telecom infrastructure.