Schlumberger Unveils Next Generation Pay phone (Newsbytes; 12/01/98) PARIS, FRANCE, 1998 DEC 1 (Newsbytes) -- By Sylvia Dennis, Newsbytes. Schlumberger has introduced Access-IT, the flagship of a new generation of smart card pay phones that the firm says can be used by telecommunication companies for value-added services. The Access-IT pay phone is unusual, Newsbytes notes, because it uses an ATM (automated teller machine) user interface, rather than a traditional screen- based pay phone for user interaction. Because the unit was designed from the ground up with value-added service in mind, its data communications costs are much less than other multimedia pay phone kiosks, company officials said. One interesting feature of the Access-IT unit is that it includes a set of utility software that allows network operators to create and download data communication-based services to the unit from a remote location. This feature, the firm says, means that networks can operate and update the pay phone from a centralized location. Because data communication costs are minimized on the unit, Schlumberger says that the pay phone can be used by operators to launch new services such as information and advertising, helping them to extend call times, attract new types of user, and to differentiate their brand in an increasingly competitive marketplace. According to Olivier Parriche, the firm's Access product manager, the Access- IT unit allows pay phone operators to exploit the rapidly changing telecommunications scene. "The Access family offers cost-effective choices for individual locations, and supports the creation of unique services which can expand the appeal of pay phones to reach new customers, and foster a distinct brand image and customer loyalty," he explained. When viewed from the front, the pay phone has an ATM look-and-feel, with buttons arrayed on the sides of the screen. According to Schlumberger, user trials of the technology have concluded that this presentation type of display is better than the traditional screen phone approach to multimedia terminals, mainly because the "ATM look" is familiar to most users. The Access-IT has a monochrome 240 x 128 pixel display to minimize graphical display downloads. The company plans to launch a color version of the unit, possibly with a higher screen resolution, to support more sophisticated multi- media applications, Schlumberger officials said. The software behind the pay phone is known as the IT (information technology) Navigator -- no relation to Netscape -- a package the firm says allows users to define and download information displays, as well as providing a ready-to-use solution for network operators to create, deliver and support new public services. Newsbytes notes that the Access-IT pay phone builds on the established Schlumberger PF08, which the firm says is the world's most widely-used smart card pay phone. The new unit has, the firm says, been engineered for even higher reliability and lower costs of ownership. Key features of the pay phone include: magnetic stripe and smart card payment options with a built-in growth path to future electronic payment techniques; higher electronic integration with non-mechanical magnetic hook detection for enhanced robustness; a compact and ergonomic shape; remote initialization capability allowing installation by third parties; and a modular structure and design which supports remote diagnostics, as well as replacement for repair purposes in under 10 minutes. Schlumberger's Web site is at http://www.slb.com/smartcards .
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