BT has launched a service that allows people to send text messages between mobiles and fixed-line phones, and is busily signing up phone companies to offer the technology.
Users of Vodafone, T Mobile, BT Mobile and 3 simply send text messages to fixed-line numbers on the 01 or 02 area codes as they would to a mobile.
If the fixed-line customer has an SMS enabled phone, the text message appears on the screen. If the phone is registered for sending text, users can exchange text messages with a fixed-line or mobile phone.
If the customer only has a normal phone, the text is converted into automated speech and delivered as a voice message which they can listen to or save until later.
"If you are not there to pick up the phone, it will keep trying to deliver the message for 24 hours," a BT spokesman told vnunet.com.
Bruce Stanford, director of products at BT Wholesale, said: "It's an example of the type of converged service which our recently announced plans for a 21st century network have been designed to enable and support."
The price to send a message depends on the service provider's normal charges for an SMS, but BT customers will pay between 8p and 10p.
BT Retail has announced a special offer of free fixed-line to fixed-line SMS for BT customers until 30 November.
BT has already sold the service to Kingston Communications and Telewest, although Telewest customers can only receive text-to-speech messages at present. The cable company plans to have the full outgoing service by the end of the year.
Other operators are in discussion with BT Wholesale about adopting the technology.
O2 is intending to introduce the service in the next few weeks, and other mobile operators are expected to follow later this year.
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