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Unified Messaging to transform personal comms

UM, what's that all about then? Convergence, dummy

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Unified messaging (UM), which integrates voice, e-mail and fax via a single interface, is set to revolutionise personal communications within the next decade, according to market analyst Ovum. By 2006, UM will be as commonplace as mobile phones today and will enable ordinary consumers to manage all their personal communications. Ovum predicts there will be more than 170 million individual mail boxes in operation around the world by 2006 and revenue from UM services could exceed $31 billion. Although the technology is currently in its infancy, Ovum predicts it will take off within the next couple of years as more and more people demand a single solution to handle all their different messaging communications. In the initial phases of development, UM is expected to appeal to small businesses and mobile workers, but as the technology becomes more affordable and widely available, it will begin to be accepted by consumers. "Dealing with messages is becoming more and more time consuming and is complicated by the fact that each type of message gets delivered to different locations," said Ovum analyst Mary Ann O'Loughlin. UM allows voice, fax and e-mail to be accessed using a single messaging interface. By simply tapping into individual message in/out mail boxes, users can pick up their e-mail via a telephone or a listen to voicemail using their PC. "UM will be the foundation of a suite of advanced personal communications services and over time, these services will transform the way people interact with the telecoms network and each other," said O'Loughlin. Several companies, including BT, Concord Technologies and JFAX, already offer basic UM based on fax services but these are expected to become more sophisticated within the next couple of years. ®

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