From "Purple" Minutes to Smart Voice

By Doug Mohney December 06, 2013

About 15 or so years ago, VON founder Jeff Pulver predicted the falling value of a voice minute. Between OTT and increased efficiencies in moving voice calls over IP, lower international rates and local flat rate calling is now common place. Jeff's idea was the "purple" – value added – minute.  Service providers would create services to add value to a voice call and be able to bill more per minute.

The concept of value added services on top of basic offerings has held up, even if the billing unit used – the minute – is much less valid today.  Today's trend is flat rate per seat (handset) billing, with vanilla voice services offered via the cloud (i.e. some sort of broadband connection in combination with a hosted IP PBX solution).  Additional revenue can be added through such things as call center services and call recording on top of the basics.

HD voice was initially seen as a potential source of purple minutes, but failed to materialize.  Rollouts of HD voice on cellular and broadband networks over the past four years have left voice pricing the same, leveraging higher quality voice as a network feature, competitive advantage and market differentiator.

Clearly, new sources of revenue need to be found. Fortunately, there are a number of offerings that can leverage existing and proven technologies and be deployed as value-added services on top of voice cloud offerings.  But, service providers need to break out of the paradigm of viewing and treating voice as a separate function. Voice needs to be fully recognized as a data type.

Voice as data leverages the ability of an IP-based voice world to take the data (voice) stream and process it for added value. It can be used to verify identity in voice biometrics. Recorded calls of all types – conference, sales, customer service – can be translated into text, Hypervoice indexed for quick reference and then pumped through a voice analytics package to improve business processes and gather marketing information.

All of the value added services described above fall into the category of Smart Voice. For the most part, voice interactions are dumb . They aren't recorded, transcribed, indexed, or otherwise processed.

With TMCNet, I'm proud to announce the first Smart Voice conference.  It will take place on Tuesday, January 28, in Miami, Florida. The one day event, collocated with ITEXPO East, will focus on the benefits of Smart Voice services such as call recording/archiving, Hypervoice text-to-speech indexing, voice biometrics and voice analytics. The expo provides attendees with actionable insights from top industry experts and companies on current and future state of the technology.

More information on the event is available at, with regular updates taking place as speakers, panelists, and moderators are confirmed.  Martin Geddes, co-founder of the Hypervoice Consortium, has agreed to give the kick-off keynote, and we're currently working on filling out speakers and panelists for the rest of the conference.

Edited by Blaise McNamee

Contributing Editor

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