News Release

FLV Telecom Takes First Step to New World Services with VoIP

Cisco Systems Supplies State-of-the-Art Solutions for Integrated Network
Sep 24, 1999

BRUSSELS -- September 24, 1999 -- Cisco Systems and FLV Telecom announce today that FLV has implemented the first phase of their end-to-end Voice over IP (VoIP) network on the FLV Campus in Ypres. FLV Telecom is the Information & Communication Technology (ICT) Division of FLV Foundation, the driving force at Flanders Language Valley (FLV). When considering the benefits of integrating voice and data on one network, VoIP telephony is only one example. That is certainly what FLV Telecom is demonstrating with its brand new Cisco solutions based network.

FLV Telecom's task is to supply the technical support, networking know-how and application services for start-up companies on the FLV campus, so that they are able to develop their speech and language applications into market ready products. Developing these state-of-the-art products requires a powerful high-tech infrastructure. To provide their customers with the best technology solution, FLV Telecom co-operates with several partners that share their progressive vision.

Network Enabling of Speech and Language Applications

Flanders Language Valley (FLV), situated in Ieper (Belgium), is the brainchild of Jo Lernout and Pol Hauspie and is aiming to become an area of expertise, much like Silicon-Valley. Important elements at FLV are knowledge, venture capital, infrastructure, as well as a clear focus on speech, artificial intelligence and language technology. They are certainly on the right track; more than thirty high-tech companies have already signed in, and many more are eager to join them.

FLV Telecom's role is in the ICT infrastructure. Bart Louwagie, Chief Technology Officer at FLV Telecom explains: "Our goal is to provide these extremely skilled people and companies on the site in Ieper with a state-of-the-art ICT environment where these outstanding technologists feel at home. With equipment that is ready for the next millenium, FLV companies can combine their enthusiasm and expertise to harvest the best of their research and developments."

They are also building a test site on the campus where companies can test and demonstrate the latest applications. Creating a unique environment for these research and development oriented companies, FLV Telecom offers state of the art services. A converged network offering voice and data fits perfectly into this strategy. Implementing new applications onto this integrated network, has revealed endless possibilities.

VoIP Clears the Way for Innovative Applications

While the economic benefits of a converged network, reducing the telecom and infrastructure costs at FLV, are clear - financial considerations were not the driving force behind the selection process. For FLV Telecom the main added value of VoIP is the integration of applications and Voice. Equally, VoIP will serve as a catalyst for the development of new applications. One of the possibilities Bart Louwagie, CTO at FLV Telecom, has in mind is application sharing while talking on the Selsius IP phone. For example, one of the parties in the conversation can start up a software package that is automatically and simultaneously started up on the conversing computer. The telephone drives the whole process, one does not even need to know where the other computer is situated. Assuming this software application is a speech recognition module, the telephone conversation can be transcribed on-line, a clear example of added value thanks to VoIP technology.

Call Center Linked to Web Site

Even though financial considerations were not the key issue, for some of FLV Telecom's customers the choice of VoIP will mean substantial cost savings. For example; one of their customers is setting up a Web site linked to several call centers worldwide. While surfing on this Web site customers can ask to talk to someone for more information by clicking on a 'talk to me' button. Immediately a signal is sent to a person in the call center familiar with the relevant topic, speaking the right language. Establishing these conversations with VoIP and transporting Inter-call center communications over IP backbones with the appropriate Quality of Service will lead to substantial cost savings.

Cost Effective Video Conferencing Via IP and Integration with VoIP

FLV Telecom also offers videoconferencing to its customers, an indispensable tool for the inter- and intra-company communications and in view of FLV's the worldwide expansion plans. High Quality video conferencing using traditional telephone services is expensive; the hardware costs about 5.000 to 60.000 USD, and for each call abroad an international call over 6 ISDN lines is needed. On the other hand, using the existing data network, which already requires a leased line to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) international call charges can be avoided. However, to guarantee quality the ISP need to offer a QoS service level agreement. In addition, the hardware is also cost effective, with an IP based videoconferencing appliance like VCON costing around 800 USD.

Distance learning using IP/TV

The applications FLV Telecom intends to implement on the network are seemingly endless. A further plan is to put training courses and internal communications at the disposal of employees via video streaming. FLV Telecom plans implement an IP/TV based application for this. Again, they chose a Cisco product because it is the only one on the market with professional information management features. It also integrates fully with the IP based video conferencing systems and can capture any video conference for playback at a later date. The system will ensure that new training courses or internal information are made available to all the relevant employees. The course can then be viewed on Intranet using IP TV video streaming. When someone is out of the office at the time of the course, they receive the message upon returning. These video streams are automatically distributed across locations. "The integration of content management, audio and video streaming through IP/TV is unique as this kind of management would not have been easy with any other video streaming software," claims Bart Louwagie.

A New World of Opportunities

The IP/TV application provides opportunity for further co-operation between FLV and Cisco. The L&H software transcribes the content of the video, making it searchable, or allowing it to be automatically translated. During the project it soon became apparent that FLV and Cisco's products are complementary. There is no doubt that this New World Services project will benefit from an increasing degree of co-operation.

About FLV

The Flanders Language Valley concept, the brainchild of Jo Lernout and Pol Hauspie, rests on two independent pillars, namely FLV Foundation, which co-ordinates all non-profit-making activities, and FLV Fund, the venture capital fund concentrating exclusively on profit-making activities.

FLV Foundation co-ordinates the work of its various departments, each of which is responsible for specific elements of the overall service package. Their areas of responsibility include the campus, training, the telecommunications infrastructure, and the expansion of support bases in Boston, San Francisco and Singapore.

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