Sprint looks to voice access to monetize the Internet

At a keynote address delivered by Rob Hammond, a leading member of Sprint Corp.’s National Integrated Solutions division, at the VOX 2002 speech technology conference Monday, the executive announced Sprint’s plans to partner with system integrators and hardware manufacturers to voice-enable corporate applications and to host the applications on the Sprint network. The strategy will go under the name VAP3 (Voice Applications for Preferred Partner Program).

Hammond’s talk focused mainly on telephony-based solutions that allow users to dial into the network using voice to access company data.

As envisioned by Sprint, based in Overland Park, Kan., the carrier would manage the platform and possibly host the voice-enabled corporate applications. However, flexibility is key, and for those customers that prefer to host the applications in-house Sprint would work with them, said Hammond. While Sprint would also assist with integration efforts on the back end, system integrators were probably more qualified than the network carriers or the telecommunications hardware providers to do that, Hammond added.

“We will use a partnership approach to attack the market and do solution selling,” Hammond said.

Hammond stressed flexibility in its approach to customers, but he did say that Sprint would be well-qualified to take the lead, manage the project, and be responsible for the service-level agreement.

“Triple A [Authentication, Authorization, and Administration] is grounded with the carrier,” Hammond said.

Hammond noted that voice is the bulk of a carrier’s business and that carriers know how to monetize voice calls. Sprint now intends to leverage that capability by adding voice-based services to a platform that consumers and business are already comfortable using.

The next generation of voice services has been dubbed Dial Tone 2.0.

“Dial Tone 2.0 is the first major development in dial tone in 50 years,” Hammond said.

Rather than stressing the unique qualities that a voice technology might bring to business applications, Hammond stressed in his talk that voice becomes just an additional layer in the existing corporate network. He used his platform at the Vox Conference to promote the extensibility of Voice XML as a way to ensure that voice would integrate easily with current applications.

He also told the audience consisting mainly of application developers, speech technology providers, and hardware manufacturers in the telecommunications business that voice is a way to monetize the Internet.

“VXML is the next established standard to fuel that growth. VXML gives applications portability and access to corporate data,” Hammond said.

Hammond ended his talk by telling the audience that Sprint has decided to standardize on J2ME as its solution for handhelds and handsets.

“J2ME is an open standard as opposed to BREW or something else,” Hammond said.

The VOX 2002 conference was created by the Kelsey Group, based in Princeton, N.J.