Rhetorical and BBN Technologies, a Verizon Company, Sign Speech Technology Licensing Agreement

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Cambridge, Mass. - BBN Technologies, a Verizon company, and Rhetorical, the UK-based text-to-speech company, have signed a licensing agreement involving the sale of speech-recognition and language-processing technologies.

The agreement gives BBN Technologies rights to integrate current and future versions of Rhetorical's text-to-speech technology in BBN's award-winning speech-recognition system called HARK.

Businesses that purchase the technology from BBN and Rhetorical can use it to dramatically improve the level of service provided to customers through call centers. New words and names can be added dynamically to both the speech-to-text and text-to-speech components, synchronizing their knowledge for a better user experience.

Verizon, BBN's parent company, was the first to test the new speech-recognition product in some of Verizon's call centers. In addition to technology licensing, the agreement provides a framework for long-term cooperation in marketing.

"This combination of BBN's and Rhetorical's strengths will result in powerful speech products and solutions," said Marc Moens, president and CEO of Rhetorical. "BBN has a long history in speech and language processing, and we are proud to have them as a partner."

Marie Meteer, director of Call Center Speech Solutions at BBN, said, "The agreement between BBN and Rhetorical is a natural fit, as both companies provide complementary speech technologies. This will allow us to take advanced speech products and solutions to the marketplace. Rhetorical is emerging as a provider of world-class text-to-speech technology. We are delighted to be working with a company that shares BBN's dedication to product leadership and innovation."

About BBN Technologies:

BBN Technologies, a Verizon Communications company, was established as Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. in 1948. From its roots as an acoustical design consulting firm, to the implementation and operation of the ARPANET-the forerunner of today's Internet-to the development of the first network email, which established the @ sign as an icon for the digital age, BBN Technologies provides the same technical expertise and innovation to both government and commercial customers today. These areas of expertise include: system integration; distributed, collaborative applications; speech recognition; language understanding; wireless and satellite networking; network architecture and management; information security; structural acoustics; sensor signal processing; and real-time, multi-processor systems. With more than 750 employees in 15 offices across the US, BBN Technologies had revenues in 2000 of approximately $118 million. For more information on BBN Technologies, go to www.bbn.com.

About Verizon:

A Fortune 10 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services, with approximately $67 billion in revenues. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with more than 139 million access line equivalents and 36 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is the third largest long-distance carrier for U.S. consumers, with nearly 16 million long-distance lines. The company is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. Verizon's international presence includes wireline and wireless communications operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.

About Rhetorical:

Rhetorical is a leading provider of text-to-speech (TTS) solutions. The company builds high-quality voices, which in many applications are indistinguishable from the real voices on which they are modeled. Rhetorical is headquartered in Edinburgh, with offices in the U.S. and Europe. Rhetorical was established in Scotland, and Rhetorical Inc. was incorporated in Delaware.

Rhetorical's research and development team is the largest and most experienced text-to-speech team in the world. The company's complete focus on text-to-speech allows it to set very high standards as it innovates, develops and maintains the highest quality products and services available. For more information about Rhetorical or rVoiceTM, visit www.rhetorical.com.

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