GTE begins selling its first Advanced Intelligent Network product;InContactSM service gives customers 'one-number' feature to stay in touch with important telephone calls.

IRVING, Texas -- GTE Telephone Operations today introduced InContactSM service -- the company's first Advanced Intelligent Network (AIN) product -- a call-management system that connects customers' home, business and cellular phones, voice mail and pager with one number.

InContact service was tested earlier this year in Irving, Texas, with 300 customers, and is now available throughout the entire Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. GTE will begin offering InContact service to its California and Florida customers in August.

According to Carl "Skip" Huster, director-AIN Program Management for GTE, InContact service directs all of a customer's incoming calls -- whether to the home, office, car or pager -- to a phone number at any desired location. The service also allows customers the flexibility to forward some or all calls to a voice mailbox or accept calls only from certain numbers by utilizing selected call-screening features.

"Today's environment requires many people to be constantly on the move, increasing the chance that important calls will be missed. With InContact service, customers remain accessible to anyone, anywhere, because their calls are always directed to the number of their choice," said Huster. "InContact service gives customers virtually total control to manage their calls, and is ideal for people who have several numbers but want all of their calls directed to a single number."

InContact Service Offers Total Flexibility For Customers' Hectic Schedule

At the time of sign-up, customers can give a GTE service representative their initial call-routing schedule (for example, at branch office Mondays, home all day on Tuesdays, at main office 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the rest of the week, etc.). Once service is activated, customers can enter their initial routing schedule themselves, plus change their weekly or monthly call-routing schedules at will, using an easy-to-use interactive voice response system.

"The service is working within minutes of the request, virtually unheard of in the industry," said Michelle Yockey, AIN Market Trial Project Manager for GTE. "Usually by the time we finish taking a customer's order and get off the phone, his or her InContact service is fully operational."

InContact service represents the first time GTE has built a service- provisioning system simultaneously with the development of a new service. After a service representative gathers information from a customer, the system automatically establishes the customer's new InContact phone number and routing schedule.

To ensure that the InContact service would be easy to use, GTE worked with "human factors" experts who designed the steps used to change call routing schedules via the interactive voice response system. The "human factors" experts performed usability testing with real customers at each step of the design phase.

Advanced Intelligent Network Speeds Product Introductions To Market

Beyond its InContact service, GTE has numerous AIN service concepts being evaluated to determine customer acceptance and feasibility. To develop new AIN services, GTE will work with external vendors and utilize its own Intelligent Network Service Creation Group.

GTE established its Advanced Intelligent Network in 1994 as part of a strategic initiative to get new network products and services to market faster, and to customize services to meet specific customer needs. GTE set a company record by introducing InContact service to market only nine months after initial feasibility studies began.

Residential customers can purchase InContact service for $12 per month with a nominal, one-time connection fee. Business customers can obtain InContact service for $17 per month with a nominal, one-time connection fee. To order, customers can call 1-800-GTE-FIND (1-800-483-3463).