Volt provides directory assistance, data management and operator services to telephone companies around the world.
AT&T began a controlled trial of this new directory assistance service in December 2006 in Bakersfield, Calif., Oklahoma City, Okla., and Columbus, Ohio. The new service provides free directory assistance information and targeted advertising messages to users.
AT&T said it will automate the "white pages" requests with speech recognition and text-to-speech solutions from Nuance, integrating Nuances directory assistance application with VoltDeltas advertising platform, data, database services and operator interfaces to provide a speech-enabled service for name and number searches complete with operator backup.
"Consumers are looking for directory assistance when they dont have a phone book handy or cant jump online," David Huntley, senior vice president of diversified businesses at San Antonio-based AT&T, said in a statement. "In addition to our premier caller-paid Directory Assistance service, AT&T 1-800-YellowPages now offers our consumers audio YellowPages, powered by Nuances speech technology. Nuance has been a critical player throughout the development of our new state-of-the-art advertiser-supported Directory Assistance service."
Industry research has found that nearly 50 billion directory searches are performed by users in the United States each year, Nuance officials said.
Roughly 6 billion of those requests are accessed through traditional directory assistance services, while the rest are accessed via free services such as print directories or online searches.
"The entrance of AT&T into the market for advertiser-supported DA services validates the business model of this evolving market," Michael Thompson, vice president and general manager of Telco, Search and Communications at Nuance, based in Burlington, Mass., said in the same statement. "We expect the number of free 411 calls to explode as callers discover the service offers a faster, more convenient alternative to other options such as standard yellow pages or traditional Internet searches."