MARKETING & SERVICES; Giving the whites a little sparkle – Telcordia Technologies’ software for telcos to organize their director publications

MARKETING & SERVICES; Giving the whites a little sparkle – Telcordia Technologies’ software for telcos to organize their director publications – Company Business and Marketing

Telcos have been turning a profit from their white pages for years – selling ads to businesses and offering options such as special fonts, colors, graphics and other features to residential and business customers alike.

New software recently created by Telcordia Technologies is not only enhancing some of those features and increasing their availability, but also making it easier for companies to design and paginate their directory publications.

Steve Stein, product manager for Telcordia, said companies “have been turning a profit for nearly 20 years” off their white pages. Telcordia’s new solution is now giving a wider array of telcos the ability to offer customers the option of colors, highlights, fonts, point sizes and other elements that make their listings stand out.

The software, known as the Advanced Listing Products and Services System, also allows for banners or billboard-style listings, repeating ads and logos. Customers can add their e-mail addresses and even a family crest to their listings.

Telcordia partnered with Xyvision Enterprise Solutions to create the new solution, which consists of two separate modules: ALPSS/LIRA helps users set up their databases, while ALPSS/Mozart automates the production of the system and completes the layout for companies.

“The two work together to support the generation of revenue,” Stein said.

The offering will not only benefit incumbent telcos, he said, but could also act as a strong database building tool for start-ups and smaller competitive local exchange carriers.

In addition to generating revenue, Stein added, the software supports the concept of portability and is designed to break down directory listings by either prefixes or geographic areas, depending on the user’s preference.

Telcordia’s product is finding its place in the industry. SBC-owned Southwestern Bell and Pacific Bell are both using ALPSS, along with Ameritech and Cincinnati Bell.

Carol Laurentius, area manager of directory white pages for Southwestern Bell, said her company has beentesting the software for more than a year and recently distributed a white pages directory in Arkansas that was designed using ALPSS. The telco’s largest directory, in Kansas City, was also designed with the software and will be published in June.

Southwestern Bell was already offering banner ads – including e-mail addresses, graphics and special font options – with its previous software, so ALPSS has not had a big impact on the company’s capabilities. However, it has made work behind the scenes much more appealing, according to Laurentius.

“It’s so much easier for us to work with it,” she said. Previously, when a customer wanted to run a repeating ad, for example, each endorsement had to be placed manually. ALPSS/Mozart, however, places all ads automatically.

“The composition pagination piece is just a lot more user-friendly. Running those jobs on a mainframe environment really eats a lot of time. [The ALPSS program] runs a lot faster too,” Laurentius said.

The software has also allowed Southwestern Bell to change the way directories are forwarded to the printer. Before ALPSS, the pages were printed and a paper copy was sent. Today, however, a post-script file is sent via CD, cutting down on paper costs.

Enhanced white pages are becoming more common, Laurentius said. “You don’t just see name, address, telephone number anymore. You see the enhanced listing products. I’ve seen that in a lot of the different directories as you go from city to city.”

Ameritech has been using ALPSS since February and is currently in the conversion and testing stage. The company’s first publication using the software will be released in the third quarter, said Lynne Szanyi, solutions director with Ameritech.

While Ameritech primarily purchased the system in an effort to become Y2K compliant, the company also eventually plans to use ALPSS for pagination.

Like Southwestern Bell, Ameritech has been offering enhanced white pages features for years, including special fonts, vanity listings, highlighting, bolding and some color options. As for where ALPSS will fit in, “We haven’t had the opportunity to assess all the features we might be using in the future,” Szanyi said.

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