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Most of the stands at Internet Telecom Expo 2000 in New York yesterday looked pretty tame - except for one.

After all, there's only so much you can say or would want to hear about unified messaging.

But the Me.net stand seemed to be drawing quite a crowd, which warranted closer inspection. After all, what did it have that the others didn't?

Sex appeal, as it turned out that. The New York-based company had hired the services of a scantily clad female to sit in a plastic bubble and answer punters' phone calls to help plug Me.net's new UM service.

The blonde beauty lounged resplendant whilst locked in the transparent bubble within the Me.net booth - which was decked in with seventies decor, complete with lava lamp and sheepskin rug pinned to the wall.

Customers signing up for the "number for life" service would get 1000 free minutes to call within the US, it promised, and, once signed up, could use these freebies to call the bubble-housed vixen. Which seemed to give several of the salivating males at the booth a sudden interest in unified messaging.

The Me.net service offers one inbox for voice, email and fax messages via one phone number. Users can receive emails as a voicemail, or vice versa. Only available in the US in its current beta version, it is free for the first two months. The next month costs $1, then monthly rates start at $4.95.

There are plans to launch the service worldwide next year. ®

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