MailSpeech taps into e-mail

Mobile federal workers could have a new option for checking e-mail — any touch-tone telephone — with today's launch of MailSpeech from DPD International.

MailSpeech enables users to access their agency's e-mail system from any cellular or regular touch-tone phone, and at a fraction of the cost and/or effort that goes into carrying around a laptop computer, pager or other special access device, said Ron Browning, vice president of marketing at DPD.

"What should interest federal agencies is that this is the lowest-cost solution to remote e-mail access," Browning said. "Any organization that has people [working] out of the office but that still need access to e-mail" is a potential customer.

The initial cost for MailSpeech is $8,000 for a two-port system and $10,000 for a four-port system, both of which can accommodate up to 25 users. The number of ports correlates to how many calls can be processed simultaneously, Browning said. Comparable unified messaging systems can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000, he said.

The two major glitches that DPD had to fix before it could begin shipping MailSpeech this month involved the speech-conversion software and overall speed of the system.

"The speech-conversion software was just a little fuzzier than we'd like...but we're getting a new engine in there that provides clearer speech," he said. "There was also a pause, between eight and 60 seconds, during the text-to-speech conversion, and we got that down to one or two seconds."

DPD is already working on future enhancements for MailSpeech, including the addition of using voice commands instead of having to punch numbers. That feature should be ready by late summer, Browning said.

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