Alcatel buys Telera for VoiceXML in call centres

Alcatel, the telecommunication equipment manufacturer, has agreed to pay $136m (£93m) in stock for Telera, a company specialising...

Alcatel, the telecommunication equipment manufacturer, has agreed to pay $136m (£93m) in stock for Telera, a company specialising in Voice Extensible Markup Language (VoiceXML) systems.

Alcatel hopes to add self-service features to the live call centre systems developed by Alcatel's contact centre subsidiary, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories.

Under Alcatel's control, Telera will, at first, work on voice self-service systems, the market for which Alcatel said it expects to grow to $600m (£410m) by 2005.

Alcatel said it plans to integrate these systems with existing live customer assistance products developed by Genesys.

The technology would bring Web-based, self-service applications to telephone users with technology that is expected to lower the cost and complexity of installation.

Traditionally, call centres run by enterprise customers or service providers have had to develop two independent systems - one that end users could use to access over the Web and another that could be used to access data by telephone.

Possible market opportunities that arise with a system that can be accessed by phone or the Web include services for end users such as automated product support and order tracking.

Telera's Voice Web Application Platform can be deployed either in customer premises equipment or as a carrier network service. One of its largest customers, Qwest Communications International, will continue to work with the newly merged companies, said Prem Uppaluru, Telera's chief executive officer.

Alcatel said it expects the deal to close in July, subject to approval by Telera's shareholders and regulators.

Also in July, Genesys is expected to release its first call centre product that incorporates Telera's technology. Additional products that will combine technology from Telera, Genesys and Alcatel are in the pipeline, the companies said.

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