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Speech-Driven Telephone E-Business App Launched

NetByTel.com launched its Telephone e-Business Platform that "lets online retailers and other e-businesses extend their Web-based marketplaces to anyone with a telephone."

The company offers an automated, speech-enabled interface to client Web sites so that a customer can call from anywhere and transact business over any wired or wireless telephone, instead of requiring an Internet-connected computer.

Initial users of the technology are priceline.com Inc. (PCLN), Office Depot Inc. (ODP) and BigStar Entertainment Inc. (BGST), operator of bigstar.com.

NetByTel said it has developed proprietary technology and has built out an infrastructure and network operations facility that lets it offer a ready-made infrastructure for telephone-enabled e-business.

Client e-tailers don't have to alter their Web site's existing e-commerce technology infrastructure, so there's no additional burden on their technical staff, the company said. The model is ASP; online retailers pay a performance-based transaction fee for the NetByTel Connected service.

NetByTel said it recognized that most e-tailers can't afford to set up live call centers as a means for traditional, off-line shoppers to dial in to their businesses. So NetByTel created an automated Telephone e-Business Platform, applying advanced speech recognition, speech synthesis and proprietary agent technologies.

"NetByTel gives each e-business its own telephone number, so they can put their own brand image on the line with their customers," said Paul Robinson, co-founder and president of NetByTel.

"What the telephone did for catalog merchants like Sears and J.C. Penney 60 years ago, NetByTel is doing for on-line merchants today," said Neal Bernstein, co-founder and chief executive officer of NetByTel.

"Traditional catalog merchants were slaves to the U.S. mail until the telephone caught on. Today, e-tailers are slaves to computers with Internet access -- which seems crazy when the telephone is and will remain the most ubiquitous communication device in the world."

At launch, NetByTel is offering e-businesses two application modules: NetByTel Ordering, to process in-bound orders from customers who dial in by phone; and NetByTel Order Status, an automated e-service application that verbally reports order status to customers over the phone. Applications are being developed for auction notification, market research, lead capture and generation, store location and sweepstakes.



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