International Directory Assistance

March 15, 2002

International Directory Assistance

International DA and The Global Economy

In telecommunications, the transition to a global economy has become a reality.  For business and personal affairs, for public and private communications, our society’s frame of reference is no longer primarily local – it has become international in scope.  This represents a dramatic change from even five years ago, and recent world events are accelerating this trend.

For users and service providers alike, it is clear that global communications trends bring ever-greater challenges as geopolitical, language, and cultural boundaries are crossed.  Increasingly, users must rely on service providers to mediate the complexities borne of distance, and service providers must rely on robust and capable infrastructure to support and automate the services they provide.

International Directory Assistance is emerging as the core communications service enabling this economic expansion.  With several million international calls annually, there is a critical and growing need for robust, rapid, and flexible access to directory listings in foreign countries, and for the ancillary services, such as language translation, that make this access intuitive and efficient.

Opportunities and Challenges for DA Service Providers

International DA presents special opportunities to DA service providers.  First, these calls tend to sport unusually high margins, while representing a comparatively small volume of calls.  And because they are by nature more complex than conventional DA calls, the user’s need is often substantial.  This is a nearly ideal confluence of circumstances for exceptional, customer-focused service differentiation that is also profitable.

International DA also provides carriers with an opportunity to extend their existing services to become a single-source provider for Directory Assistance, regardless of the geographic requirements of the caller.  Why hand the call to an Interexchange carrier when it can be handled profitably in-house?  As local telephone companies move into long distance and expand into international service, the opportunity - and the need - for Directory Assistance to move with them is clear.

The problem for service providers, however, has always been one of complexity.  Aside from the obvious difficulties of language, challenges of incompatible data types, myriad communications standards, and the breadth of regulatory environments have rendered International DA off limits to all but a few service providers – until now.

Comprehensive Technology from varetis

As the world leader in International DA solutions, varetis has succeeded in bringing robust solutions within reach of any DA service provider.   Our extensive client list includes International DA service providers of long-standing, such as AT&T, MCI, and LSSi, and with good reason – we know how to bridge the technical, geopolitical, and regulatory gaps inherent in today’s global telecommunications environment.  Our comprehensive gateway solutions, for example, have been built to accommodate each of the important interconnection protocols in this industry, including E.115, (both x.25 and IP) EDA/EWP, and OSA for both inbound and outbound traffic. Any system supporting one or more of these protocols can be directly accessed by varetis technology.  More importantly, varetis unifies this variegated world of disparate directory technology solutions at the operator terminal, providing a consistent user interface and behavioral paradigm regardless of the underlying system being accessed.  And administratively, we integrate both billing statistical reporting functions across access protocol boundaries.  The result is lowered operational costs, faster time to market, and seamless integration of widely disparate data environments at the operator terminal.

An Example

As a “high-touch” service, International DA provides opportunities for the service provider to demonstrate extraordinary customer service, and varetis has built many of these opportunities directly into our technology.  An excellent example of this is the language translation functionality built into the IDW, our powerful operator position.  Let’s assume that the customer, who speaks English, wishes to locate the listing for a hospital in Munich, Germany.  The request is made by the user using the English word hospital.  The word hospital is entered in the appropriate field, and the operator presses the TRANSLATION key on the IDW, which initiates a search into the language translation database.  The database returns, in this case, two entries in German: krankenhaus and klinik, meaning hospital, and clinic, respectively.  The operator can then select the appropriate translation, which is automatically placed into the appropriate search field.  Note that if the translation search returns only a single result, that result automatically populates the search field without additional operator involvement.  The same process is used for the locality, which in this case will translate the English word Munich into the German München, which then automatically populates the locality field.  The operator can now search the German listings database directly.  This all happens rapidly and intuitively, and without the knowledge of the user, resulting in seamless, customer-friendly service that lesser technology simply cannot provide.

varetis technology goes even further, storing useful information such as time zone differences, (”It’s 2 AM in Germany just now, shall I connect you anyway?”) charging information, and frequently requested listings -- features all designed to maximize the customer’s experience with the service provider, resulting in extraordinary customer satisfaction and outstanding service differentiation.

Managing Relationships 

International DA, while technically complex, is about more than just technology.  No service provider owns all the data necessary for comprehensive international listings support; bilateral commercial relationships with other data providers must be established in order to obtain access to international listings.  As the dominant technology provider in this industry, varetis has established a wide range or relationships with content providers throughout the world, and maintains active memberships with a variety of international standards bodies.  

Perhaps the most significant of these is EIDQ, a non-profit organization of 27 corporate members engaged in directory inquiry services based on the ITU-T E.115 standard. EIDQ is chartered to facilitate the development of national and international directory inquiry services among its members based on international standards and principles of interworking. Collectively, this represents a potential for accessing nearly 380 million subscriber listings in 24 countries.  EIDQ is also involved in tracking and influencing the regulatory activities of the European Commission.  Members of the EIDQ have ready access to most of the largest European telcos, and, through this access, to the right contact people for their international DA activities. 

As a result, varetis is uniquely positioned to leverage our relationships to assist you in executing your business strategy in less time, and at lower cost, than you might achieve on your own.  And the reverse is true as well; varetis can assist you in brokering your own directory content throughout our network of service providers.  In doing so, you’ll develop new business opportunities, and generate new revenues from your existing infrastructure.

The Vendor of Choice

varetis is internationally recognized as a global leader in innovative Call Center and Directory Assistance solutions for both carriers and service providers.  Our global presence and unparalleled international experience will enable you to rapidly and reliably deliver international Directory Assistance by integrating your data with scores of directory databases around the world.  Our solutions are highly scalable, flexible, and modular; our technology has been designed to integrate seamlessly into your existing infrastructure.

International Directory Assistance from varetis.  Connecting the global village.

About varetis

varetis COMMUNICATIONS LP is a subsidiary of varetis AG.  varetis COMMUNICATIONS LP, is headquartered in Elmwood Park, NJ, with sales offices in Brazil, and supports varetis’ North and South American markets.  Currently employing approximately 300 professionals, varetis AG maintains its corporate headquarters in Munich, Germany and international subsidiaries in Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Hungary as well as a sales office in France.  The office is ISO 9001 certified.

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