BT is testing a service that will allow mobile phone users to send text messages to fixed-line phones using automatic text-to-speech conversion technology.
The service, which the telco aims to wholesale to service providers, will also allow users of SMS-enabled phones to send messages to mobiles using the same system.
The sophisticated synthetic speech conversion will, according to BT, even be able to recognise and convert 'text speech' abbreviations such as #:-( or :-| ('bad hair day' and 'determined', respectively).
Users with voicemail systems can opt to have messages delivered directly into their voicemail box. Those without voicemail can receive the text as a voice message via a telephone call with an automated voice delivering the message.
If the user's line is busy the system will make a number of attempts to pass the message on. The speech message can also be saved for later access.
Users with text-enabled fixed-line handsets will be able to receive messages in text format rather than as voice messages.
BT said that it expected the service to be useful for elderly, blind or partially sighted people who have so far been unable to make use of SMS.
"SMS is now a major telecoms service and has become a very useful and positive part of many people's lives," said Paul Reynolds, chief executive of BT Wholesale.
"Extending it to fixed lines through the imaginative use of text-to-voice technology will make it a much more flexible and fun service for business and personal users."
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