GTE becomes first telecommunications company to test advanced unified messaging service for wireline and wireless third-quarter in Tampa, Fla., and Dallas.

NEW ORLEANS -- GTE today announced plans to conduct a trial of advanced unified-messaging services targeted to the rapidly growing mobile professional, telecommuter, and work-at-home market.

GTEs unified messaging service utilizes Microsofts Internet Information Server (IIS) on Windows NT Server and Digital Sounds InfoMail ExpressTM; messaging platform. The computer telephony integration (CTI) based service will be tested by business and residential customers in Tampa, Fla., and Dallas beginning in the third quarter of this year. Based on the success of the trial, GTE plans to offer the service commercially early next year.

The service merges the analog telephone line and a personal computer-based call management system. By fully integrating voice mail, fax mail and e-mail, it enables customers to retrieve messages from a single mailbox 24 hours a day from a wireline or wireless phone, fax machine or personal computer via a World Wide Web browser.

Giving customers one central place to access messages simplifies the way they communicate, said Terri Compton, vice president-new business development for GTE.

Unified messaging removes the technological and geographic barriers that have historically limited how people send and retrieve information, added Compton. With unified messaging, people on the go can choose when, where and how messages are obtained, regardless of how they are sent.

The advanced unified messaging trial follows closely on the heels of GTEs previous announcement that it will assemble a national high-speed data network, and establish an unregulated national sales, service and marketing company.

Convergence of Services Offers Consumers Convenience

One of the key objectives of the new business unit is to deliver integrated packages including local, long-distance, wireless, paging, data and Internet services nationwide, said Compton. This trial will be the first demonstration of convergence across these networks. Pioneering this type of advanced unified messaging exhibits GTEs commitment to go beyond basic packaging of network services.

According to International Data Corp., a leading industry research firm, approximately 30 percent of phone companies voice-mail customers are also Internet subscribers. Offering communication-intensive customers the convenience of web access to voice mail, fax and e-mail messages will help provide unique competitive advantages for phone companies.

GTE and Digital Sound have successfully worked together in the development and delivery of multi-media messaging solutions for nearly a decade, said Mark Ozur, president and chief executive officer of Digital Sound.

This trial, combined with GTEs formation of an unregulated business unit, gives us an exciting opportunity to continue to support them in an increasingly competitive telecommunications marketplace, added Ozur. Working with technological partners such as Microsoft in the development of InfoMail Express allows us to give GTE major time-to-market advantages.

Microsoft is excited about the use of the Windows NT Server and IIS as key enabling products for this service trial with GTE, said Cameron Myhrvold, vice president, Internet customer unit at Microsoft.

The features of the Active Server platform make possible the advances in telecommunications service provisioning and management that will provide significant benefits to GTEs customers in the trial. Microsoft is delighted to be working with GTE and Digital Sound on this important initiative, added Myhrvold.

Access to Messages, Anytime, Anywhere

With GTEs unified messaging service, customers can retrieve e-mail, voice and fax messages by phone or through a personalized web message page. After accessing their personalized mailbox, users can see a list of e-mail, voice and fax messages on their computer screen.

When retrieving messages from a wireline or wireless telephone, customers hear a computerized voice that provides message information. Customers may also retrieve messages from a fax machine handset similar to the manner in which they retrieve messages from a telephone.



About GTE

With revenues of more than $21 billion in 1996, GTE is one of the largest publicly held telecommunications companies in the world. In the United States, GTE offers local and wireless service in 29 states and long-distance service in all 50 states. GTE was the first among its peers to offer one-stop shopping for local, long-distance and Internet access services. Additional information about GTE can be found on the Internet at http://www.gte.com.