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    The number you have called is currently playing Beethoven…

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    Personalised ring tones for the called party are old hat, but European Computer Telecoms has launched a service which will let operators offer subscribers the chance to substitute the normal ring tone a caller hears with a personal tone.

    For a monthly fee the service will allow a user to change the normal national ringing tone heard by callers to his phone with a personal announcement, music or ringing sequence.
    The applications is already being used by an ECT customer in Asia, and has now been made available to European operators.
    ECT said that besides the surprise and fun effect for private subscribers, the ringback tone service also fulfils a business requirement for privacy. If, for instance, a German businessman is in England and receives a call via GSM roaming, the caller hears the UK ringing tone and thus knows where the businessman is, even before he answers the call. With the ringback tone service, the businessman could have all callers always receive the German ringing tone, regardless of the country in which he is currently using his mobile, ensuring privacy on his whereabouts. In Asia, the ringback tone service is already being offered successfully to business subscribers as a profitable premium service with a high monthly fee, ECT said on the launch of the service.
    “Our application for ringback tone service offers mobile carriers a completely new feature to differentiate their service and supplement their income per subscriber. We are proud to be the first technology provider to enable this service and are looking forward to it becoming an important trend and moneymaker for our mobile customers,” Dr. Christian Kühl, chief sales officer of EC, said.
    The ringback tone service is based on ECT’s AutoCarrier softswitch and includes a Web-based interface that allows the subscriber to upload his own messages, music or tones as Wav files and then activate his own personalised ringback tone. The subscriber can also change the ringback tone using interactive voice response.
    SK Telecom in South Korea was the first in the world to launch personalised ring-back tones, and consumers are estimated to have spent EUR80 million in 2002 on the service, with the figure expected to increase sharply in 2003. SK Telecom now has 16 million subscribers signed up to personalised ring-back tones paying roughly EUR1.75 per month.
    l Sicap, a wholly owned subsidiary of Swisscom mobile, has also launched a ring back tone service for the European market, called Tones4U.

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