Omnitel 2000 Launch, First Internet Portal With Voice Access
Voice recognition aids access via wireless or wired phones and
New channel for E-commerce and advertising
May 26, 1999
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Steve Fleischer, BAIW
Milan - OMNITEL 2000, Omnitel's new web portal, was presented this
morning in Milan. This new product provides access to over 150 different
services and the Internet from any type of telephone connection using the
first-ever combination of voice recognition and hypertext technologies to
achieve convergence between telecommunications, the Internet, and the
The service is due to start at the end of June. During the first two months,
site offerings will be fine-tuned, leading to an expected commercial launch
at the beginning of September. Omnitel forecasts 60 million accesses by
the end of the year.
Omnitel 2000 is a portal, a single route traveling through the different
technologies which make up the platform, allowing access to a
theoretically unlimited number of services. Various companies have
already seen in Omnitel 2000 not only new business and service
opportunities for their customers, but also a new publicity channel.
Omnitel 2000's services are available both to Omnitel's own customers,
by dialing "2000," as well as to customers of other fixed and
Omnitel 2000 can be accessed in three ways: Directly through the Internet
at sites www.2000.it and www.2000.com; via mobile phones using WAP
(Wireless Application Protocol), the protocol for wireless Internet access;
or by means of voice recognition, one of the most innovative aspects of
Thanks to the rapid progress of voice recognition systems, it is now
possible to navigate through services by using natural human language,
communicating choices to the system over any type of telephone. In
Omnitel 2000 customers can find all kinds of easily available and up-to-
date information: current news, local restaurants listed according to type
and price, cinemas, stock exchange quotations, personal investments,
flights, and horoscopes. It will be possible to hire a car, buy a ticket for a
show, book a holiday, or make bank transactions and consult insurance
Users can search using specific details or through virtual theme areas
created by Omnitel 2000, such as economy, football, cars, or music.
Omnitel 2000 provides a solution to the two major limitations of the
Internet in Italy: the limited domestic use of PCs and distribution of credit
Thanks to the use of the voice and WAP technology, the mobile phone
will become the ideal instrument for web access, extending the number of
Internet customers from the current two million, to all 50 million current
fixed and mobile phone users in Italy.
In a future in which personal wireless communication seems destined to
reach practically all of Italy's 57 million citizens, the mobile phone is not
only the ideal means of communication, but also the most widespread
instrument for access to services and information offered by the Internet
and the media.
Omnitel 2000 also allows customers to pay for its services using the same
E-commerce mechanism that Omnitel's millions of prepaid customers use.
And Omnitel's prepaid customers can use their credit to access Omnitel
Omnitel 2000's information services will range from finance to economy,
and from entertainment to news. Customers will be guided by voice
prompts when using a traditional phone, or by hypertext menus when
using WAP or the Internet. Omnitel has set up a 12 Mb/s channel to access
Internet services, and the infrastructure is already able to access 1.5
million pages a day. The contents of Omnitel 2000's services are stored in
five databases distributed throughout Italy.
The next European mobile communication standard, UMTS (Universal
Mobile Telecommunications System), is expected to begin testing in Italy
by the end of the year. UMTS will use a wider frequency band of up to 2
Mb/s, enhancing Omnitel 2000's capabilities and allowing mobile phones
to integrate voice, data, and video transmissions.
Omnitel 2000 is managed by a 50-member team led by Vincenzo Novari,
who, after the success achieved within the company's Personal Division,
has taken charge of this new strategic sector. About 100 other Omnitel
employees are also involved in the project, along with hundreds of people
in research centers around the world who have contributed to the
implementation of the technical solutions.