Over the Phone Interpreting (also known as OPI) is an on-demand service that allows individuals that speak different languages to communicate effectively through a human interpreter. Through the use of a telephone, the interpreter conveys the dialogue spoken from one person to another in their native language, which enables a conversation to be had between the parties. Over the Phone Interpreting is most often delivered consecutively, allowing each person to finish their statement prior to interpretation into the other language. Because Over the Phone Interpreting is usually offered on-demand, and delivered at a fraction of the cost of onsite or face-to-face interpreting, it has become a popular service for corporations, government agencies, organizations, and institutions to effectively open communication channels when a common language is not present.
Within the Over the Phone Interpreting (OPI) industry, there are providers that offer service for single language combinations (for example English and Spanish) and others that support over 150 language combinations. The service is either accessed using an automated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system or is connected using an Operator or Call Center Representative.
The pricing model for Over the Phone Interpreting services has not been standardized, and pricing ranges from a little less than $1/minute up to $5/minute. Additionally, providers may bill to the nearest minute, 1/6th of a minute, or, with some providers, to the nearest second. Contracts, set up fees, and volume commitments also vary.
In most cases, the only equipment required to use the service is a phone and active phone line. Some users of the service utilize dual-handsets when the two parties that wish to communicate are in the same location. Dual-handsets are available for sale, for lease, or for free through a number of providers.
Over the Phone Interpreting is available to anyone that has a need to communicate with individuals that speak a different language. Current users of the service include (but are not limited to): Government Entities, Insurance Providers, Help or Support Desks, Legal Professionals, Immigration Services, Call Centers, Educational Institutions, Hospitals, Federal Emergency services, and Information Lines.
Industry analyst firm Common Sense Advisory estimates that the demand for Over the Phone Interpreting service will increase 71% from 2007 to 2012. In 2012, the market is estimated to be $1.2 billion.
Language industry site Commonsense Advisory