At the same time, broadband networks, mobile telephony, IP technology and speech recognition have created several convergent revolutions in telephony services, allowing the mixing of media,new access paths for wireless users and new applications. Internet Service Providers find revenue growth restricted by competition,by the "free-use" paradigm and by market saturation. VoIP carriers need to provide enhanced services to increase profitability as long distance telephone rates drop. Wireless telephony operators are also faced with increased competition and falling profitability. These service providers are turning to enhanced services as a means of diversifying their offerings, expanding revenues, and attracting and holding paying subscribers. These services include Unified Communications and information services provided through mobile telephony as well as the home PC, and to business services such as contact centers, call recording, quality monitoring, automated attendants and conference calls.
Teleconferencing and collaboration, unified messaging and communications, personal assistant and directory services are a few of the new convergent applications that create a personal online communication portal. They allow providers to leverage on existing substrate to offer lucrative "sticky " services with the newest compelling content, attracting and holding IP and circuit-switched TDM network subscribers and enterprises.
As the nature of enhanced services becomes more complex, providers, operators and enterprises, including small businesses, are turning to Application Service Providers (ASPs) who provide them with different mixes of enhanced services. Telephony ASPs can give their customers advanced applications such as teleconferencing, unified messaging communications or speech-driven personal assistant, without customers needing to invest, manage or maintain additional equipment. This allows for costs to be shared among users.
These next-generation enhanced services require a broad mix of capabilities and applications such as e-mail, circuit-switched and IP-telephony, voice and fax messaging, speech recognition and databases, IVR, WAP servers, VoiceXML, and new applications and capabilities always on the horizon. Since no single platform at present provides all of these services and capabilities, they require integration. The integration is sometimes performed by third party integrators, by enhanced services vendors or by the operators and providers. Integration of platforms that were not designed to work together with existing networks has proven to be risky and difficult. Changing technology may render the systems obsolete soon after they are put in service. The new services operate best in broadband IP networks, and, just as importantly, they must be able to operate in today's market, which is still dominated by circuit-switched technology.
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