Bell Atlantic Introduces State-of-the-Art Speech Recognition Product for Federal Government

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Bell Atlantic Introduces State-of-the-Art Speech
Recognition Product for Federal Government

Bell Atlantic Connect@once Helps Agencies Cut Costs,
Increase Efficiency, and Better Serve Constituents

March 16, 1999


Michel Daley,
Melissa Templeton,
Meredith Gray,

Washington -- Busy federal workers now can look up phone numbers
and complete internal calls in a matter of seconds by simply talking to
their phones -- instead of poring through outdated paper or online

Bell Atlantic® Connect@onceTM, introduced by the company today at the
FOSE '99 conference, provides a customized internal telephone directory
that utilizes speech recognition technology to allow users to place calls,
find listings, and retrieve and leave voice mail messages, simply by
speaking to an automated attendant. The system is speaker-independent,
designed to automatically understand different voices and even accents.

A single Bell Atlantic Connect&once directory platform can contain
from 2,500 to 16,500 names and can be linked with additional platforms
to provide virtually unlimited capacity. For example, a user could say
"Boston" or "Andrews Air Force Base" to be connected to the directory
for that location.

Connect@once, which Bell Atlantic initially will market to federal
agencies, is expected to dramatically reduce the time government workers
spend searching for internal telephone numbers, increasing their
efficiency and productivity. In addition, Connect@once allows agency
operators to spend less time helping other government employees and
more time serving citizens who need assistance.

"Federal agencies using this service can expect to see a dramatic
reduction in the time that most citizens spend on hold when calling their
agency," said Alex McAllister, manager of technology development for
Bell Atlantic Federal.

In addition to time savings, agencies can expect to better manage their
long distance and mobile phone charges -- especially important with the
government's increasingly mobile work force. Since Connect@once
automatically completes a person's call, there's no need to dial two
numbers, plus a credit card number for long distance calls. And agencies
can use Bell Atlantic Connect@once to help ensure that long distance
calls go through their predetermined least-cost call routing system, which
means that all calls are completed at the lowest available cost.

Bell Atlantic Connect@once is particularly beneficial to users with visual
impairments or limited use of their hands and fingers. And unlike other
directories that become obsolete almost as soon as they are published, the
Connect@once directory stays current because it can be updated as often
as an agency requires. It's always available -- from any phone, 24 hours
a day, seven days a week.

"Bell Atlantic is proud to offer this innovative new product to the federal
government," said Barbara Connor, president of Bell Atlantic Federal.
Connect@once can help federal agencies provide better service to the citizen
and make the work environment more accommodating for workers with certain
physical limitations.

How It Works

Government employees access the Bell Atlantic Connect@once internal
directory by dialing a two-digit access code, usually *0. External callers
can access the directory via a standard 10-digit phone number. The
automated attendant then asks the user whom he or she would like to call.
The user states the name, and Connect@once completes the call -- all in
about 15 seconds.

In trials conducted by a federal agency, it took government employees at
least two minutes to look up a number and complete a call when using a
printed or online directory. The same employees needed only about 15
seconds to complete the call using Connect@once.

"When you factor in the hundreds of calls placed by thousands of
employees in a single day, federal agencies can expect to see a significant
increase in employee productivity," said McAllister. "The benefits of
Connect@once are obvious and compelling, but the initial reaction from
most customers is 'Wow!' "

There are no training costs involved with Connect@once. Using a
business-card-sized set of simple instructions, any user can dial into the
system and get to work.

Bell Atlantic Connect@once has a proven completion rate of almost
95%, making it practical for everyday use. Previous generations of the
technology had completion rates as low as 50% -- too inconsistent to be
practical. Bell Atlantic teamed with Nuance Communications, a leader in
speech recognition technology, to provide the engine and development
tools that are key to the excellent performance of Connect@once.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and
information industry. With more than 42 million telephone access lines
and 8.6 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies
are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services,
market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of
directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the
world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets,
with operations and investments in 23 countries.

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