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August 1, 2000

Lou Saviano: 510 739-0621 Introducing netECHO™ Software to Help Businesses Make Their Existing Web Sites Accessible by Phone

netECHO™ Business' Automated Technology is Faster,
Less Expensive than Existing Alternatives

San Jose, CA -- August 1, 2000 -- today announced netECHO™ Business, a product that will allow businesses to make their existing Web site content accessible by phone.

netECHO™ Business will use innovative technology to instantly automate the process of making Web content accessible in real time and interactive audio format to customers who call from any phone.  Depending on the site's content, customers will be able to hear company news, as well as product and pricing information, check their order or account status, purchase products, obtain product support, etc., by using their own voice.

Today, only the largest of companies are making their Web sites telephone-accessible, because existing technology requires a manual rewrite and costly on-going maintenance of each and every page into Voice Extensible Markup Language (VXML).

"With more than 500 billion Web pages on the Internet today, it's not likely that many sites will soon become telephone-accessible if businesses have to rely on slow, time-consuming and expensive solutions like VXML," said Ed Kennedy, vice president of Marketing for

netECHO™ Business does not require that each Web page be rewritten.  Instead, it automatically converts existing pages into audio format, significantly lowering the up-front investment a business must make to allow users to hear and interact with their site by phone. Furthermore, maintenance costs are lower because netECHO™ Business automatically voice enables dynamically changing content. By comparison, each page written in VXML needs to be rewritten any time there is a major change in the Web page.

Businesses using netECHO™ Business will have the option of purchasing their own equipment to host the audio-enabling hardware, or contract with authorized vendors.

“Our product takes any existing visual Web page and makes it accessible for audio users,” said Dr. Emdad Khan, president and CEO of  

netECHO™ Business also adjusts content for better audio presentation. For example a visual Web page featuring an on-line application or form might list the fields one after the other.  That might be confusing to listeners who hear the sequential list “name, address, telephone,” etc. read out loud to them. netECHO™ Business takes this raw information, and breaks it up into pieces that make sense in an audio format.  So “name” might be changed to “What is your name,” followed by an appropriate amount of time for the customer to say their name and start verbally “filling out” the form. 

The company expects that an increasing number of industries will be interested in providing audio Internet access, and early adopters will be in the travel and financial industries.  "For example, companies like Mapquest could use netECHO™ Business to make driving directions, traffic reports, directory listings and travel guide information available by phone.  Or companies like Charles Schwab could use netECHO™ business to allow immediate and secure phone access to all their Web content," said Kennedy.

“Phone-enabled Web sites will become more and more popular as people begin to understand how simple and easy it is to gather information and conduct transactions using their own voice,” said Khan.  

He predicts that a new Audio Internet Service Provider industry will spring up to allow users to “surf” between phone-enabled Web sites.'s netECHO™ Consumer product, now being tested in the San Francisco Bay Area, allows retail subscribers to hear any Web site from any phone, without a computer, and to surf between sites. The product also allows users to check e-mail, and go directly to information such as weather, news, sports, stock quotes, horoscopes, etc.

netECHO™ is initially being launched as a retail product, and is working with telephone and portal companies, Internet Service Providers and Application Service Providers to deploy the technology nationwide.  

About develops, markets and supports an Audio Internet Browser, netECHO™, which provides audio-based telephone access to the Internet for businesses and individuals. The company's patent-pending technology can be bundled with other products, such as traditional computer-based Internet access, or voice mail, and can be customized to meet individual business needs, such as employee access to Intranet sites. also offers business software that automates the process of voice-enabling a company's Web site, furthering development of the "voice Web." is a privately held company headquartered in San Jose, Calif., It currently has licenses to use text-to-speech technology from Lernout & Hauspie (Nasdaq: LHSP; Easdaq: LHSP) and speech recognition technology from SpeechWorks International, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPWX -- soon to be public). For more information about, visit, or call 1-408-360-7730. 

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