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SBC launches unified messaging service

SBC Communications said on Monday it was launching a messaging service that will allow subscribers to access voice mails, e-mails and faxes over the Internet.
/ Source: Reuters

SBC Communications said on Monday it was launching a messaging service that merges some functions of voice mail and e-mail, tying cell phones, landline telephones and fax machines together.

SBC’s Unified Communications service is the latest attempt by a large U.S. local telephone company to build links between its wireless and traditional phone networks, as well as sell new services to the growing number of U.S. consumers with at least two phones.

The service will route messages through a Web portal, allowing subscribers access to voice mails, e-mails and faxes sent to several different numbers or accounts over the Internet.

Those messages can also be forwarded to a variety of devices, with options such as automated reading of e-mails over phones.

SBC, the nation’s second-largest local phone company, said the service would be available in major cities in its 13-state coverage area. Prices run from $1 per month when bundled with other services up to $12.95 per month as a stand-alone option. The system accepts wireless voice mail only from cell phones sold by Cingular Wireless, an SBC joint venture.

Last month, Verizon Communications Inc. launched its Iobi service, which offers some similar features as well as call forwarding functions.