Swedes use Europe's first completely automatic directory enquiries service

- 200 000 calls to the service which has been introduced without publicity - Europe's first fully automatic directory enquiries service, which the Swedish telephone company Telia introduced without publicity apart from a press release on January 11, has received 200 000 calls from Swedes in the first month. The "talking telephone directory" is a machine which recognizes the pronunciation of all of the names of persons and places in Sweden and answers by reading the telephone number aloud.
The Respons AB company is a subsidiary of Telia which is responsible for directory enquiries. Respons AB receives 1 million calls every week from Sweden's population of nearly 9 million calling the 118 118 directory enquiries number, Telia's most important number. Calls to this number are answered by an individual who offers a personal service, looking up telephone calls, addresses, etc. The Respons company has now introduced a technically advanced, wholly automatic service, with the telephone number 118 888. The telephone number requested by the subscriber is stated by a machine which also understands all of the dialects and accents which are most commonly spoken in Sweden.
"The 118 888 number is probably the first service of this type in the world, and certainly in Europe. We believe that with this number we will increase the total usage of our directory enquiries service. The 200 000 calls that have been received since the service began have not meant that calls to 118 118 have decreased, so up to now the figures indicate that we will turn out to be right", says Barbro Sjölander, MD at Respons AB.
A moderately priced alternative
This highly technical operation is a co-operation project between Respons AB and Philips, the electronics company. The aim is to provide a service that provides value for money as a complementary service to the existing directory enquiries service with the number 118 118. The 118 118 service is a premium service where the personal service requirement is high. The new 118 888 service, called 'Autosvar', acts as a basic service that will probably find new categories of users such as non-corporate subscribers who now refrain from using the directory enquiries service due to the cost of the service.
An audio analysis and survey of 5.3 million telephone numbers of private subscribers in Sweden has been carried out. Details of business subscribers will be incorporated in the next stage.
Ann-Sofie Olsson, Press- and Information Officer, Respons AB,
+46 8 634 73 59 or +46 70 634 97 60
Lena Svensson, Telia ProSoft Project Manager,
+46 8 713 37 70 or +46 70 527 17 66
www.telia.se
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